Court of Appeals of Maryland expands reach of police wiretaps

A “wiretap” is simply a fancy word for listening in on another person’s conversation on the phone, though the term has since been expanded to include other conversations that take place on the Web. As Yvonne Wenger reports for the Baltimore Sun, the Court of Appeals of Maryland (our highest court) has ruled in favor of the police when it comes to wiretapping.

Law enforcement has for a long time relied on wiretapping to help arrest and prosecute those who are accused of drug-related crime, and in regard to this recent ruling, one prosecutor said, “It means that drug dealers can’t evade a wiretap by driving their cars across the state line.”

But under some interpretations of Maryland’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act, the police can only conduct wiretapping within state lines. In other words, the police shouldn’t be able to continue to monitor a person’s conversations when that person leaves Maryland.

In this particular case, the police had placed a wiretap on the defendant’s mobile phone and were listening to his conversation while he was outside the state, returning from a trip to Miami. Presumably based on what they heard, the police stopped the defendant’s car, searched it, and discovered roughly nine pounds of marijuana, as Wenger reports.

The defense argued that this wasn’t permissible by law, and that based on the ruling the police would be able to conduct surveillance anywhere and everywhere.

The prosecution, on the other hand, argued that “drug dealers” shouldn’t be able to just cross the state line to get around the wiretap law.

If you are facing criminal charges, contact a MD criminal lawyer before you talk to police or anyone else.

 

Source: Court upholds cell phone monitoring across state lines