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Is it a crime to use a police scanner while committing an offense?

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  • Is it a crime to use a police scanner while committing an offense?

    We have a situation with a subject that has used a police scanner to evade police and know our location while committing a crime. He has been arrested for UCW and is usally armed. Does anyone know of a TX or FEDERAL law permitting someone from using a scanner while committing an offense?
    TX Police Officer /DRE

  • #2
    In Florida it is unlawful to use a scanner/2 way radio/police band radio to commit an offence. It is also unlawful to have a scanner mounted in a vehicle. I suspect Texas has a similar law. In doing research for Use of Force/Justifiable Battery, I have found many Florida and Texas laws are very similar almost the exact wording.

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    • #3
      I'm pretty sure it's an FCC violation to use a scanner to commit a crime in any state.

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      • #4
        I know it is a crime in MN even to have a scanner in your vehicle portable or mounted, and I think a felony to use it in evading police, I have'nt heard anything about it being a fed crime though.

        mnrez

        [ 01-30-2002: Message edited by: mnrez ]

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        • #5
          It is a crime to have a scanner in Minnesota? Dang I have been breaking your law most of the times I have visited your state. IS there a exception for out of state visitors or should I leave my scanner at home for now on? What do private security agencies use to keep tabs on thie accounts because I know the citizens are going to call them right after the call the police.

          Klar
          Are you a Veteran? If so join AMVETS the only organization that accepts all vets no matter when or where they served. Contact me for more info.

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          • #6
            In OH I don't think you can have a scanner in your vehicle either. I don't think many agencies enforce it. Some have scanners in their units. I for one don't like to enforce laws that I don't always abide by, seems hypocritical. I think if you use one in the commision of a crime, it may be looked at as a criminal tool, felony.

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            • #7
              Texas has no law prohibiting the use of a scanner in a vehicle.

              The question is interesting, but I find nothing in Texas law enhancing a crime by the use of a scanner.

              Could the following statute apply to a scanner?


              CHAPTER 16. CRIMINAL INSTRUMENTS, INTERCEPTION
              OF WIRE OR ORAL COMMUNICATION,
              AND INSTALLATION OF TRACKING DEVICE
              (Heading chgd. by L.1999, chap. 728(2), eff. 9/1/99.)

              "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final"--Bill Jordan

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              • #8
                Tx
                That sounds like it applies to me. Our statute specifically outlines scanners, and two way radios.

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                • #9
                  now this brings up a interesting subject how many states actually prohibit the use of a scanner in a vehicle that is not commiting a crime? I usually carry a scanner with me when I am traveling from state to state on a trip listening to the various departments that I go through. The scanner I have scans through most of the currect channels out there so I can hear anything from cab traffic to life flights. I am very curious on what states I will be considered breaking the law in.

                  I can understand wanting to punish one who uses a scanner to enhance their escape after the commission of the crime so that is no problem. IS this just something that has happened to eliminate scanners by the general law abiding citizens because a few bad apples?

                  Klar
                  Are you a Veteran? If so join AMVETS the only organization that accepts all vets no matter when or where they served. Contact me for more info.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks TX,
                    I also found the same title PC 16.01 but it isn't very clear. I bet judges would rule both ways. I'd be interested to know others opinion on the law as it is written.
                    TX Police Officer /DRE

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                    • #11
                      Klar,
                      MN traffic law lists the possession of a police scanner in a MV as a MS possession crime.299C.37 S1
                      Having a scanner in a MV while the MV is utilized in a Felony, as a felony violation. 609.856 S1
                      As for if you should leave yours at home when passing through, I would.
                      I have a scanner as well and love to listen in on other agencies, but I do not carry it in my car. I guess the rule of thumb is to err on the side of the law. Chances are though if you get caught with it you'll have to explain why you have it, and probably be asked to put it in the trunk.
                      To tell you the truth we don't run across it all that much, I have'nt yet personally.


                      mnrez


                      [ 01-31-2002: Message edited by: mnrez ]

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                      • #12
                        I will remember not to tell you when I am making my next trip up there LOL

                        Klar
                        Are you a Veteran? If so join AMVETS the only organization that accepts all vets no matter when or where they served. Contact me for more info.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PartTimer:
                          In OH I don't think you can have a scanner in your vehicle either. I don't think many agencies enforce it. Some have scanners in their units. I for one don't like to enforce laws that I don't always abide by, seems hypocritical. I think if you use one in the commision of a crime, it may be looked at as a criminal tool, felony.
                          there is no law in ohio that says you cannot have a radio / scanner in your vehicle.

                          "REMEMBER, COPS ARE YOUR FRIENDS !!"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            New Jersey Scanner Law

                            NEW JERSEY STATUTES (1995)
                            CODE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
                            RIOT, DISORDERLY CONDUCT, ETC.


                            2C:33-21. Use of information intercepted from police, fire or
                            emergency medical communications system

                            Any person who intercepts any message or transmission made on
                            or over any police, fire or emergency medical communications sys-
                            tem, or any person who is the recipient of information so intercepted,
                            and who uses the information obtained thereby to facilitate the
                            commission of or the attempt to commit a crime or violation of any
                            law of this State, or uses the same in a manner which interferes with
                            the discharge of police operations, shall be guilty of a crime of the
                            fourth degree.
                            L.1991, c. 432, s. 1, eff. Jan 18, 1992.


                            2C:33-22. Possession of radio capable of receiving transmission
                            from police, fire, or emergency medical communication
                            system

                            Any person who, while in the course of committing or attempting
                            to commit a crime, including the immediate flight therefrom, pos-
                            sesses or controls a radio capable of receiving any message or
                            transmission made on or over any police, fire or emergency medical
                            communications system, shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth
                            degree.
                            L.1991, c. 432, s. 2, eff. Jan 18, 1992.

                            ---
                            A NOTE ABOUT THESE LAWS: Please note that these two ordinances do NOT
                            seem to be making the simple possession of a scanner an illegal thing.
                            What the laws seem to be stating is that having a scanner is fine - even
                            mobile, as I do not see a single mention of anything about that at all.
                            However, USING same to commit a crime is illegal. For
                            example, using a scanner to find out ahead of time where the police are
                            NOT patrolling, and then going to that area and committing a rape, a
                            robbery, a burglary - that is illegal. Likewise, using a scanner to then
                            find out when the police have been alerted to your offense and using it to
                            evade and elude the police - that is a crime. Sounds a bit rediculous,
                            doesn't it? However, keep in mind that to be prosecuted for it, an
                            offense or crime has to be defined in black and white first.

                            Royce is a Lady

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Under the Radio Communications Act (a federal law, applicable across Canada) it is illegal to intercept communications for personal gain, and also illegal to use a frequency for which you are not authorized. I just tried to look up this Act, but could not find the sections, so I am winging this from memory.

                              These sections are not used much (similar to the section banning use of radar detectors) because Industry Canada must authorize any charges before they are proceeded with by the Police. IF a criminal is found in possession of a scanner, set to Police frequencies, and they are fleeeing a crime, the Police MAY be able to add a charge under the Radio Communication Act to whatever other charges would be laid against them, but it is VERY rare.

                              My attitude is, I know that there are civilians that have these devices for entertainment (boy, have they got little going on in their lives!) and some for furtherance of their criminal activities, so I try to guard my voice transmissions as best as I can. Sometimes I will talk about a "client" with the specific intent of someone, maybe the very "client" of whom I am speaking, telling the "client" what I REALLY think about her/him!
                              #32936 - Royal Canadian Mounted Police - 1975-10-27 / 2010-12-29
                              Proud Dad of #54266 - RCMP - 2007-02-12 to date
                              RCMP Veterans Association - Regina Division member
                              Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada - Associate (Retired) member
                              "Smile" - no!

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