"Fruit of the poisonous tree" evidence doctrine

Can I believe that law enforcement officers deliberately violate people’s rights, then craft a bullshit veneer over it to both hide their crimes AND give them the right to arrest the very people they violated?

Surprisingly, I can.

I love the way pkbites response is actually appropriate for Factual Questions.

Which brings up the question - is lying by ommission also perjury? Saying “We got this information from an informant” but not saying “…because we told him this” would appear to be a form of lying to get a search warrant, thus invalidating it.

The answer to the OP appears to be “anything works if the cops lie to the judge about it.”

I’m sure they mainly listened in on intimate conversations, phone sex, gossip and affairs, credit card and banking information, and other private communications. Far more of that than drug deals, especially since the drug dealers know how vulnerable a cordless phone is, and members of a long distance relationship probably don’t.

And they shouldn’t, as that’s some pretty creepy behavior. Especially if they are actually on the clock and being paid as police officers while indulging in it.

Eh, anyone of any importance knew. I’m sure that they picked up on some high school kids selling eachother dimebags, assuming they could tear themselves away from their real life nightly soap operas.

This seems to have spun off a bit into the world of wiretaps, an area in which I have experience. Let me start by saying I never even heard of an illegal wiretap. The term? Yes. An actual illegal tap? No. No anonymous tips called in by the cops, no feeding info to informants to have them spew it back, no imaginary buys or informants. When done correctly (legally), these are expensive in both terms of manpower and technical resources. While I suppose it could be done, theoretically on a landline, the idea of some rogue cops tapping your phone without substantial technical assistance, including the carriers, is almost laughable.

Before a wire “goes up” there is a meeting of everyone involved. It is made abundantly clear that any funny business could result in the entire investigation being thrown out and possible criminal charges for anyone who steps over the line. In my experience, Assistant U.S. Attorneys (usually) or more local prosecutors were intimately involved in the day to day operations of a wire. If anything was the least bit questionable, we erred on the conservative side. This could be quite frustrating from a cop’s point of view but we never had any evidence suppressed and the vast majority of cases ended in guilty pleas.

As an aside but perhaps of some interest, you should know that when your phone is tapped or house is bugged, we don’t just turn the recorders on and listen to everything. Someone has to be physically present to monitor the tech and conversations. While they are listening, written notes summarizing the conversations are kept. There has to be a procedure in place to ensure that the overhearing and recording of non-pertinent conversations are minimized. This “minimization” includes limiting the hours of the tap and limiting the time you can listen/record while you determine if the conversation is pertinent or not. Pretty quickly one can determine that, when person A calls, it is never criminal in nature. When that number pops up on the caller ID and you ascertain that it is indeed person A, you stop listening. You are then permitted to “spot monitor” or listen in briefly every few minutes to be sure that someone else hasn’t gotten on the phone and started talking about criminal activity. If a conversation about an unrelated crime pops up, you have to amend the warrant to include that crime. We once had a couple of drug targets start talking about the bank they just robbed where a shot was fired. They may have gotten away with it, if not for the wire.

Things are set up so that everything you listen to is recorded and available in discovery. Violation of the minimization rules is grounds to throw out the entire wiretap so things are taken seriously. The judge that signed the order is updated on a regular basis and he decides whether or not to extend the tap. Once the case is completed, everyone who had a conversation intercepted (assuming they can be identified) is notified that they had been recorded.

Wires (to include intercepting emails, texts and other electronic communication) are great tools for dismantling organizations or working your way up the food chain to get to Mr. Big. My experience was limited to drug cases with the exception of my first one. In that case, I was thrown in as a monitor, by myself, on a bookmaking case. This was during the overlap season where baseball, football and hockey were all going on. The phone never stopped ringing and I had to learn the jargon on the fly. It was a nightmare for a new guy.

Everything I just said applies to “normal”, criminal investigative wires. The potential for abuse is certainly there. I don’t know but I assume it would be trivial to make it so things that are heard are not necessarily recorded and the tap is never made known to anyone outside of the tapping agency. The second part of that would be MUCH more difficult. What goes on at the NSA or other agencies that may appear to break the law in “the interest of national security” is a mystery to me.

Sorry for the thread drift but if you believe what you see on T.V. regarding wiretaps, you are misinformed. (Actually, “The Wire” was pretty on-point regarding drug investigations and wiretapping. Probably one of my all-time favorite shows.) I am long retired and know that the tech side has changed immensely. The legal side - not so much.

Firstly, as already noted, police don’t need a reason to scope out a bank to account for the risk that it might get robbed.

Secondly, the wiretap will only be deemed “illegal” later, as a result of a successful motion to suppress filed by the defendant’s lawyer at a later time. To prevail, however, that lawyer will have to overcome the fact that the initial wiretap was signed off by a judge (unless it was truly a case of a cop going rogue, which is pretty out there), and that the police get to rely on the excuse that they were “acting in good faith” if they acted on it.

(An exception would lie if the defense attorney could show that they misrepresented the details they used to get the judge to issue the warrant).

Again, police don’t need an excuse to stake out a house. And they may, in fact, delay pursuing some apparent crime (I.e. drug possession) because they are working to get a bigger case.

The only real effect of the illegal search would be that they couldn’t testify about their discovery of those drugs in the car. Their later investigation, resulting in the drugs on the person, would probably be considered attenuated enough to be ok.

ETA: although there is a question of how they established the probable cause you said they had, since they can’t use the fact that they illegally searched the car as the basis for knowing that the guy had drugs in his house. What was the probable cause? Just visiting somebody wouldn’t be enough - the cops would need some sort of informant, or their own observations of the transaction, to be able to claim PC for the arrest.

Over POTS, it’s not that hard at all. VOIP is certainly harder, and with everything, even what is nominally the telephone carrier going to VOIP, that changes things.

But it requires very little to tap a twisted pair of copper and listen in to your heart’s content.

At most, it takes a ladder and a set of wire cutters and strippers. You don’t even have to set up in front of the home in question, just about any pole in the neighborhood will do.

With VOIP, you’d have to intercept the signal between phone and modem. With access to the inside of the house, that is trivial. Without access to the house, it’s much more problematic, and probably would require cooperation of the carrier.

Cell phones are obviously a whole different thing. You either need movie level hacker skills, or cooperation with the carrier.

I don’t have any experience with wire-taps, per se, but I did work for a telecom company as a tech for a while.

That is a rather big loophole. Just get a warrant, no matter how dodgy, and the police can use whatever they find. It undermines the whole concept of getting a warrant.

I should have been clearer. Warrantless wiretap. Fishing expedition.

If they aren’t acting in good faith that the search is legal, then the exception that is named after good faith of course does not apply.

Yes, wiretaps were already touchy issues back when The Anderson Tapes came out, in 1971. A warrant is needed. As others have alluded to - it’s no longer a matter of putting a “tap” on a cable pair for many phones. Often it’s VoIP on the TV service. Cellular are encrypted now, in the days of analog you could listen with a scanner. Now multiple callers share the same channel sending digital data bursts in turn.
Even if you tap an analog phone for the last mile - how? Do you use a device that radio-broadcasts to the recording device? (Radios need power, a bit more difficult i=on a pole - plus range is an issue often overlooked in cop shows) Do you have a big black box hooked up in the basement of the building where the apartment is? (Hope the janitor does not notice) A bit more difficult for a private house. Yes you can find the pair on a telephone pole, but first you have to identify it, then at a junction box hook up your relay/recording device. If you want to hook it up illegally in the phone company building, you need the cooperation of the employees - who are then also liable. Just because the local police say it’s OK does not mean the state cops or FBI will go along with that. You probably need help from the phone company to identify the pair on a 100-pair cable between junction boxes.

As usual, you can follow the tech on our standard reference, Law and Order. The police no longer seem to record conversations surreptitiously, unless it’s a cooperating witness wired up. Instead, they download the list of who you called, when, and for how long to piece together a timeline. (As an added bonus, sometimes they get location data from cellular phones.) It’s not the data, it’s the metadata.

After all, leaving the TV running in the background is probably a major problem for hidden mikes.

But to the OP - the major question is “probable cause” when pulling over the customer after a drug sale. Unless you saw the exchange there’s no reason to stop and search him. If you saw the sale - well, this is what lawyers get paid to figure out. There was no violation of the customer’s rights to catch him - the police saw a drug sale, and took action. If they then raided the seller’s house, perhaps the seller’s lawyer could argue it was “fruit”. Can someone say “you violated Bob’s rights therefore evidence against me is illegal”? (I vaguely recall reading about a case where this was the issue, and the judge says - “not your rights violated, not your right to exclude evidence”. )

The judge would be correct. In order to challenge a search, you must have an expectation of privacy in the area searched. You don’t get to claim that expectation if it’s my place that was searched (even if something that incriminates you was found).

Passengers in cars, for example, usually can’t challenge a search of the driver’s car, even if they can challenge a search of their own possessions within the car.

To begin with, the metaphor itself is faulty.

There are a number of trees that are poisonous i.e. stems and leaves, but have perfectly edible fruit. Examples are almond, apple, cherry, plum and peach trees.

I suspect however that a D.A. bringing that up in court would get the fish eye from the judge.

I agree with the part about tapping into copper wires but you still need know which pair to connect to. I was not a tech but I do know that the tap on landlines wasn’t done at the target location but one to several blocks away where many lines came together. Cell phones were in their early stages when I retired and texting/smartphones were in their infancy. What self-respecting drug dealer even uses landlines anymore?

Someone mentioned about TVs being a problem for bugs. We encountered that exact situation. The guy never turned off his TV while awake. The feds set us up with some sort of box that you could tune to the channel being watched by the target and it would (supposedly) cancel out the TV audio. IIRC, it didn’t work well, if at all. That was a long time ago where technology is concerned.