A federal court authorized a Title III order after finding probable cause that an individual was a member of a conspiracy to violate federal law. The defendant and others were using his office in the alleged conspiracy. Officers entered the defendant’s office secretly at night and spent three hours in the building installing an electronic interception device. Several weeks later they returned to the office and removed the device.
Whether a Title III order also entails the authority to enter a premises to install the necessary equipment to engage in surreptitious recordings?
Yes. Without specifically stating this authority, a Title III order implies the authority to surreptitiously enter the target premises to install the necessary equipment.
The Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment did not prohibit per se a law enforcement officer’s covert entry into a private premises. The Fourth Amendment’s requirement is that such entry be reasonable. Although Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act did not refer explicitly to covert entry, the language, structure, and history of the statute indicated that Congress had conferred power upon the courts to authorize covert entries for enforcement of the law. The Court stated that the Fourth Amendment does not require that an electronic surveillance order issued by a court under Title III include a specific authorization to enter covertly the premises described in the order.
441 U.S. 238, 99 S. Ct. 1682 (1979)
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