Can NJ Police Legally Listen to Phone Conversations In Other States?
- June 12, 2013
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A Florida man was charged with the crimes of 1st degree murder, 1st degree felony murder, 2nd degree burglary, 2nd degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, 3rd degree possession of a firearm without a permit; 3rd degree conspiracy to hinder apprehension, 4th degree obstruction of justice and 3rd degree witness tampering as a result of a wiretap initiated by NJ law enforcement. In State v. Ates, 46 A. 3d 550 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2012) the defendant’s former son in law, Paul Duncsak was on the phone with his fiancee who testified to hearing him shout “no, oh no” then she heard a loud thud. When police arrived they found Dunscak’s lock had been picked and he had been shot multiple times at close range. Based on other evidence uncovered during the investigation, Passaic County Superior Court Judge Marilyn Clark issues orders permitting wiretaps for electronic communications between Ates and others. The wiretaps provided police with hundreds of recorded calls, with the inclusion of many calls between Ates and his defense attorney. Ates’ defense counsel unsuccessfully filed a motion to dismiss based on the wiretaps of conversations between the two. Bergen County Superior Court Judge Harry Carroll ordered the conversations between Ates and his lawyer suppressed but refused to dismiss the matter. Defendant was convicted of all charges and is now serving a life sentence. The NJ Appellate Division found that the New Jersey Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:156A-3 and 4(d), constitutionally permits wiretaps of calls in other states as the law enforcement agency listening to the conversations is located in New Jersey. The defense challenge centered on the argument that a wiretap warrant should also have been required in Florida, the state in which defendant resided. The matter is to be heard by the New Jersey Supreme Court. If the N.J. Supreme Court determines the wiretaps in Ates were constitutional, it will greatly expand permissible listening powers by NJ law enforcement officials. If you believe police may have illegally obtained evidence against you and you are now being charged with a crime in NJ, you should immediately obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. For more information regarding wiretaps, burglary, weapons offenses, drug offenses or other criminal law issues in NJ visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.