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Name: People v. Leon
Case #: S137137
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 01/25/2007

Although California law in general prohibits wiretapping, Penal Code section 629.52 authorizes law enforcement officials to apply for a court order to intercept wire communications if there is probable cause to believe that (1) an individual has committed, is committing or will commit a listed crime; (2) communications concerning the illegal activities will be obtained via the interception; (3) the communications device will be used by the person whose communications are to be intercepted; and (4) normal investigative procedures will not be successful. As to the fourth criteria, the finding by the authorizing court is entitled to substantial deference on review. Although noting that after the fact suggestions by defense attorneys as to how the investigation should have been handled, insofar as a reason for not needing a wiretap, the court then concluded that defendants had not shown that the judge was unreasonable in finding necessity. The court declined to consider whether a defendant who has procured a cell phone under a false name and for criminal purpose can have a legitimate expectation of privacy in conversations made and received within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment and, if not, whether the wiretapping statute expanded the universe of those who may challenge evidence seized as a resultof a wiretap beyond categories defined by the Fourth Amendment.