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The danger of making calls while in state custody

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Almost anyone who has ever seen a TV show or movie that tells a story related to criminal justice knows that those in state custody have the option of making a phone call, at least in most cases. In fact, state policy encourages regular communication between those in jail or prison and their loved ones on the outside.

People are so acclimated to personal privacy in their own lives that they can easily make mistakes after an arrest. Specifically, they might call friends and family members to talk about their situation. The information they disclose during those discussions could end up hurting their position if the state files charges against them.

Inmate phone calls are subject to recording

The statute in Pennsylvania discussing telecommunications for those under arrest and serving sentences is very clear. Most telecommunications from inmates are subject to monitoring and recording. The state tracks who inmates call, how frequently they make calls and how long those calls last.

There may also be digital recordings of the calls in their entirety or systems that allow professionals to listen to the conversations live. Recordings of phone calls made by inmates can serve as evidence during criminal cases. Anyone who discusses the charges that they face with friends and family members could give the prosecution more evidence to use against them at trial.

It is therefore very important for those facing criminal accusations to be cautious about what they say during phone conversations. Checking in with family and talking to friends to ease one’s mind is perfectly acceptable. Discussing what led to criminal charges or asking people to hide or destroy items could have major implications for the person accused of breaking the law.

There is no expectation of privacy while in state custody. The one exception is in scenarios where the inmate makes a phone call to their attorney. Under both standard confidentiality rules and Pennsylvania statutes, phone conversations with lawyers are not subject to monitoring or recording.

Learning about the rules that govern criminal proceedings can make a big difference for those with pending criminal charges in Pennsylvania. Those who spend any amount of time in state custody may benefit from knowing that most of their conversations on phones are not private.