I had a client who I gave this advice to back in 1992. He used to drive around with 100 quarters in his car to use pay phones and he never made a phone call from his office! I know what your thinking, what a pain the ass! But the story does not end there…
He was served with a search warrant at his business and the government seized over 2 million documents. The government kept these documents for 7 years, upon which time they finally indicted him.
The only evidence they had was from the search and seizure of the business documents any my firm got that search declared unconstitutional and 2 million documents were ruled inadmissible as fruit of the poison tree. They had no other evidence against him except what had been suppressed. Many government snitches tried to call him on his cell phone number, a number which he kept but never answered based upon my advice.
Flash forward to 2006: I represented the head of the largest agency in the State of Florida who could not stay off of his cell phone. I begged him to “throw it in the Suwanee River,” but he simply would not do it. He was indicted and much of the evidence came from cell phone conversations he had with who he thought was his best friend, but was actually a government snitch witness. The snitch got 18 months and my client got 8 years after a plea.
Today, every case is infected cell phones, especially text messages. Although you may delete your text messages, the other person may not, but more importantly, the providers keep the texts up to 2 years and produce them pursuant to a federal subpoena. Any time you text someone, keep the following things in mind:
- It can be accessed by the federal government without a search warrant.
- Text messages are saved by the providers for up to 2 years, even though if you request them, your provider may claim that they only keep the texts for up to 6 months.
- Remember, texts can be forwarded by simple procedures such as a forward or screenshots which show you as the sender and the time and date of the text.
- Lastly, under the Patriot Act, there are provision called “roving wiretaps” where if the person who calls you or sends you a text is a subject of a federal investigation and a wire tap, then without further probable cause your phone can be tapped. The “roving wiretap” provision was extended in May of 2011 when the Patriot Act was renewed, despite serious opposition from civil liberty groups.
This blog is for you, my readers. All of my posts to my readers are based upon my experience in actual cases.
- Steven R. Andrews (SRA)