Totally riveting, Nathan. I appreciate the realism. Good decision not to ditch this storyline.
Thanks! They’re all a lot of fun to do.
typo in second panel: “we listen as long for…” ought to be “we listen for as long…”?
Yowza! Good catch, thanks!
It’s not a typo if the character actually spoke it wrong! :-)
Going back to http://lawcomic.net/guide/?p=1751…
How do they tell what calls are pertinent anyway?
It depends on what they’re listening for.
It’ll be pertinent if the substance of the call contains evidence of the crime — or the criminal organization — being investigated. Calls that clue you in to who are the members of a criminal organization, their hierarchy, and things like that are going to be relevant. And of course, calls that are arranging crimes, committing crimes, discussing crimes, etc. (so long as they’re crimes the warrant says they can listen for).
Sometimes, the police have to rely on what an informant has told them, or fall back on their own experience dealing with such crimes, to figure out whether a call is in fact pertinent. Most offenders aren’t as smart as they think they are, and their attempts at concealing the substance of their conversations only makes them more damning. But sometimes the offenders are pros, who are very good at frustrating any potential wiretap, in which case the police need either a lot of brilliance or a lot of luck, or both.
Because it’s not always easy to determine what is and is not pertinent, the police are allowed some reasonable wiggle room, especially in the early days of a wire, to listen longer and try to figure out what’s really being said. So long as they’re making reasonable, good-faith efforts to do the right thing, that is.
If they hear incriminating confessions of unrelated crimes, are they permitted to act on that information, despite it not being named in the warrant? Based on previous examples, I would expect the state to be just fine with that. (No new invasion of privacy)