Can the Federal Government Wiretap Your Phone Calls: What You Need to Know

Gavel depicting Federal Government wiretap

When federal agents show up at your front door, it’s disconcerting, to say the least. Moreover, no one wants to be investigated by a federal agency.

What is often, even more, worrying for people is when federal agents show up knowing a lot about you and your life. It may leave you wondering if they have been going through bank statements, read your emails, or tapping your phone.

How much surveillance is it legal for federal agents to engage in. Aren’t these things an invasion of your privacy?

The truth is a federal investigation is a serious matter. If you suspect that a federal agency is looking at these private documents or listening to your phone calls, reach out to a criminal defense attorney right away.

You don’t need just any defense attorney; you need one who has experience dealing with federal investigations to start fighting for you now.

Federal Wiretaps – When Are They Legal?

The good news is that federal agents aren’t allowed to listen to your phone conversations any time they want to. They aren’t sitting around listening to phone calls, looking for crimes they can prosecute.

The bad news is that if you do suspect you are being surveilled, there is probably a good reason for it. For example, if you have done something, or have associated with someone the government has reason to suspect is involved in serious crime.

The Patriot Act allows federal agents to use wiretaps in certain situations. These situations are most notably, but not limited to cases of:

  • Terrorism
  • Drug Crimes
  • Counterfeiting
  • Misuse of passports
  • Aircraft parts fraud

When Can Feds Use Wiretap?

Federal agents have to use a specific process and obtain approval to use wiretaps. It’s a big deal.

The U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor must first gain approval from the DOJ. Then, they must file a request with a federal judge that includes a description of who is going to be wiretapped and provides specific details about the tap.

The judge can order regular reports on information being revealed through the tap.

A wiretap can last no more than 30 days at a time before the prosecutor can file a new request to continue to listen to your phone calls.

Wiretaps aren’t as common as you might think since they are complicated to obtain and keep in motion.

Prosecutors have to be convinced it’s worth tapping your phone since it takes many hours of his or her time to obtain permission. He or she must draft an order explaining why the wiretap is necessary, and go through many steps. It is unlikely, however, not impossible, that you are being surveilled through wiretap for this reason.


I want to make sure your legal rights are preserved. If the federal government is wiretapping you, it’s a serious matter. You need a skilled and aggressive defense attorney to give you a fair shot. With over 20 years of experience, I will provide the best possible defense. Call my office today for your free initial consultation.