Does an expanded wiretap law mean greater protection from violence or less privacy? A Boston criminal defense lawyer weighs in.
Earlier this month, Boston police arrested 14 people and broke up an international cocaine syndicate operated by the Boylston Street Gang, which police have described as one of the largest drug rings in recent Massachusetts history. According to Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, wiretaps played a critical role in allowing police to gather evidence that resulted in the arrests. Now District Attorney Conley is calling for changes to Massachusetts law to give police easier access to wiretaps
Under the current law, police must meet a strict, time-consuming standard before a state judge can approve a wiretap. Police must prove to the judge that the wiretap would investigate “organized crime” — which refers to gangs and Mafia-like organizations. Before Boston police could use wiretapping in their investigation of the Boylston Street Gang, investigators had to appear in court nine times and submit a 100+ page affidavit in order to convince the judge to approve the request. The DA’s Office claims that changes to the law, which has not been updated since 1968, will allow law enforcement to catch up with modern-day technology. Conley is really advocating to further diminish our ever shrinking constitutional protections.
While the DA would undoubtedly prefer to have easier access to wiretaps, as an experienced Boston criminal defense lawyer, I warn against any expansion of the law. A wiretap significantly intrudes on an individual’s privacy. Accordingly, the state should limit wiretapping to the most necessary and dire situations. A more lenient wiretap law could easily devolve into abuses of police or judicial powers. Although the state certainly has a strong interest in fighting organized crime and preventing violent street-level gang activities, the Legislature should proceed with great caution when considering any changes to the current wiretapping law.
If you are facing criminal charges or anticipate being charged with a crime, and you would like the counsel of a smart and fearless Boston criminal defense lawyer, contact me by calling 617-492-0055.
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