some accusations coming out of California are quite startling. According to recent motions filed in federal court, some private citizens
are accusing federal government agents of bugging areas around the outside
of a federal courthouse and using the conversations in criminal cases.
The federal agents in question got permission from the Department of Justice
and FBI, but not from any court, to put listening devices in several locations
around a courthouse. Allegedly they planted bugs in a planter, a sprinkler
box, and vehicles near the courthouse. This recently-revealed practice
has lawyers and clients throughout the country wondering what else is
being bugged around courthouses.
The problems with doing something like this should be apparent to anyone
familiar with legal proceedings. Everyday, lawyers take their clients
aside and engage in what they consider to be private conversations about
their upcoming cases. Those conversations range from strategy to liability
and everything in between. And the question arises that if the feds can
do this, can private parties do the same to the feds and their lawyers?
Just record them anywhere and anytime in a public space?
Motion and Arguments
A criminal defendant and his legal team are asking the federal court in
question to declare that these recordings are against the
4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The 4th Amendment protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable searches and
seizures by the government, and they argue that recording these types
of conversations outside a courthouse are unreasonable.
The issue is a novel one and has not really been heard before, and perhaps
it will help the court decide that such unprecedented action is not reasonable.
If the court decides that this type of clandestine recording is against
the 4th Amendment, then the likely result will be that the sound recordings
are suppressed and will not be able to be used at trial.
Florida Eavesdropping Laws
Florida has laws that deal with this type of activity. Unless otherwise authorized by law
or dual consent of the people involved, it is illegal to record and reveal
recorded conversations in Florida. That means that you have to have permission
to record what are thought to be private conversations. Not only could
you not use such conversations in court, you could face criminal penalties
for doing it.
The Pittman Firm we deal with all types of laws. Knowing about these and other laws that
have a potential for impacting a case is what being an experienced and
qualified lawyer is all about. While our primary area of practice is personal
injury, we know that at any given point in any given case, a number of
laws from a number of legal areas could come into play. As a result, you
can take comfort in the knowledge that we work tirelessly to study every
important area of the law to ensure that your case gets the attention
it deserves. If you have been injured in an accident in the Panama City area,
contact us. We look forward to giving you a free case evaluation.
See related blog posts:
Florida Supreme Court Wrestles With Contempt Issue;
Maryland Police Department Takes New Approach to Texting and Driving.