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NCJ Number: 92410 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Privacy and Police Undercover Work
Author(s): F Schoeman
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 26
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After describing the practice of police undercover work, this essay discusses what courts and commentators have said about its legal parameters and proposes restrictions on police undercover work.
Abstract: Police undercover work involves the use of deception by a police agent that may result in the obtaining of information and evidence used to build a criminal case against those targeted by the undercover activity. The courts do not require a warrant before the police initiate an undercover assignment, nor is the obtaining of incriminating information and evidence of a crime considered a violation of privacy rights or search and seizure laws. Although the warrant process prevents overt police search-and-seizure operations without a warrant based on reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed (except under specified circumstances), no such warrant is required if the police gain access to a person's property and personal habits through deceptive means. If police undercover work is to be consistent with other mandates of the law bearing upon rights to privacy and self-incrimination, then certain restrictions should be imposed on undercover investigations. There should be no undercover investigation of any one person by any one agency for more than 24 hours without a court-approved warrant. Further, while undercover operations may involve business as well as cordial social relationships, they should not include intimate personal relationships. Finally, any evidence gained directly or indirectly in violation of the two aforementioned restrictions should not be admissible in any criminal proceeding.
Index Term(s): Police intelligence operations; Right against self incrimination; Right of privacy; Undercover activity
Note: Paper presented at the Conference on Police Ethics, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 22-25 April, 1982, New York
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