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A Bill That Could Broaden When Wiretapping Can Be Used As Evidence In California Courts

The legality of wiretapping is set to be decided by CA courts.
The legality of wiretapping is set to be decided by CA courts.

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In 2009, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies allegedly heard narcotics officer Carlos Arellano through a wiretap, indicating his involvement in drug-trafficking. 

The case against Arellano lead to a decade of investigations and court hearings, and has resulted in a bill that could expand the way wiretaps are utilized in California.

Authored by state Senator Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana), Senate Bill 439 would allow law enforcement to use intercepted phone calls, emails, and other electronic communications in cases that the state law would currently disallow.

Supporters of the bill argue that California law includes enough provisions to ensure that wiretaps would not be misused while those who oppose the proposal claim that if the bill was passed into law, wiretaps could be used for a dangerously broad range of purposes. 

Should law enforcement be allowed to use wiretapping to hold potential criminals accountable or is wiretapping inherently an invasion of privacy? 

We hear from both sides of the debate.


California State Senator Tom Umberg of Senate District 34, which includes the cities of Anaheim, Huntington Beach, and Long Beach; he also authored SB-439; he tweets @SenatorUmberg

Jody Armour, professor of law at USC; he tweets @NiggaTheory