Can the Police Listen to my Phone Calls While I’m in Jail?

If you have been incarcerated, you may be wondering how private your phone calls are. Be careful when talking on the phone if you are in jail. You don’t know who may be listening. Continuing reading for more details about phone calls in jail.

People in jail sometimes find themselves getting bored because there’s not a lot to do in there. So, in order to alleviate the boredom, those in jail often make telephone calls—to their mothers, their girlfriends, and others. Frequently, the topic of conversation is the inmate’s legal case. That is, of course, understandable, but it can also be extremely damaging to your case. These days, it is a common practice for the police to obtain recordings of the telephone conversations of inmates. Some of those conversations can be very difficult to explain to a jury. For example, if someone in jail tells his mother during a telephone conversation that he is willing to accept a plea bargain of five years in prison, it is very difficult to get a jury to understand why someone who is innocent would be willing to go to prison for five years. Or maybe the individual who is in jail tells his girlfriend that he lied to the police when he was arrested because he didn’t want to confess to them what he had done. That too is tough to explain to a jury. Because we are not used to outsiders listening in on our phone conversations, people in jail sometimes forget that the police are allowed to record their conversations and to play those recordings in court for a judge and jury.

At the beginning of every jail call, an automated voice can be heard saying that the call is subject to monitoring and recording. That should be a red flag to anyone involved in the conversation that it may be recorded. But often it is not. In one Florida case, the court said that inmates do not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in their jail calls because:

  1. The automated voice warns them that their calls are being monitored and recorded; and
  2. Society’s interest in institutional security allows jailhouse conversations to be recorded.

So if you happen to find yourself in jail, do yourself (and your defense attorney) a favor and don’t talk about your case on the phone. If you have more questions regarding what you can and can’t do in jail, or what precautions you should take, give me a call at 561-832-4348. You can also connect with my West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Practice online for more information.

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