Are your phones being tapped by law enforcement agencies?
Police departments and other agencies are using a powerful surveillance device that acts as a cell tower to help tap into nearby cell phones and collect personal information. What type of information, do you wonder? Things like messages, conversations, and even your call logs are all exposed to agencies who have supposedly taken the necessary steps to purchase the device identified as the Stingray, yet many are still concerned with how this affects the rights California citizens hold and whether they are being violated.
Although the Stingray has been around for some time now, it is only until recently that a law was passed back in January 2016 that required “cities and counties that operate a Stingray to create guidelines for how and when officers use the equipment.” Any agency that decides they want to buy a Stingray must receive approval at a public hearing before doing so.
Why else should California residents be concerned with the Stingray?
The trouble is that many of these departments aren’t always complying with the law and many use a loophole that doesn’t require them to provide any sort of guideline as to how they use the device. If the agency works directly with another agency that has the device, for instance, the FBI, the police department is released from the burden of having to provide the information. While the FBI might be required to do so, that agency is no longer under speculation for what they are and aren’t collecting from citizens cell phones.
According to the Los Angeles Times who had the opportunity to review records from 20 of California’s largest police departments found that many “have been slow to follow or have ignored the law.” While this isn’t a surprise as we have recently viewed footage of officers in Chicago planting drugs in two separate cases to convict someone for a crime, people want to know more about the Stingray and exactly how it is being used.
Although the Stingray has been used to put people behind bars, if it isn’t being used properly, law enforcement officials could be breaking the law and violating a person’s rights.
Apparently, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs’ Department has a record of the 138 times they used the Stingray in 2015 and the 38 times they used it in 2016. The most common type of criminal investigation it was used for involved murder. While the Stingray has helped many officers solve some pretty serious cases, the concern regarding human rights still lingers. For instance, if an arresting officer doesn’t follow protocol when making an arrest or follow procedure when asking questions that could lead to the incrimination of a potential suspect, that evidence loses its value.
Does that same law apply when officers use the Stingray to obtain information about a criminal and use it to put them behind bars? Criminal justice attorneys in California might beg to differ and even those who have had to serve time in jail have something to say. Daniel Rigmaiden, who was arrested for filing fake tax returns, believes police used “some kind of secret device to catch him.” Aside from the fact that Rigmaiden didn’t have a stable living condition, officers were still able to track him using an old Verizon wireless card he randomly used to go online. Rigmaiden’s defense lawyer in California also believed something was used to find his exact location and pinpoint where he was.
Which departments currently have and use the Stingray?
- Long Beach Police
- A. County Sheriff
- San Diego Police
- San Jose Police
- Fresno Police
- Sacramento Police
- Sacramento County Sheriff
- Oakland Police
- Alameda district attorney’s office
- Santa Ana Police
- Anaheim Police
If you live in any of the following cities and are found guilty of a crime, be sure your California criminal defense attorney determines how the evidence was found and if it was obtained in a legitimate manner.
If you need help finding a local defense lawyer in any city in the state of California, USAttorneys.com can assist you with the process.