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No Expectation of Privacy In A Cell Phone Number in NJ

No Expectation of Privacy In A Cell Phone Number in NJ

A former Morris County teacher, Patrick DeFranco, was indicted on charges of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child after a wiretap provided evidence of a past sexual relationship between the teacher and a former student. The abuse had gone unreported for 7 years and the student no longer had evidence of the relationship. In order to obtain evidence, the victim agreed to call the Defendant while the police listened on a recorded line. The cell phone number the victim had for DeFranco was no longer valid so the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, with the help of Denville police, obtained DeFranco’s current cell phone number from Valleyview school. A call took place in which DeFranco chose to discuss past sexual contacts with the victim. At trial, DeFranco moved to suppress the wiretap based on the fact that, although he had given his prior cell phone number to the victim, he had not given the number used for the wiretap to the victim. He further argued that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his cell phone number and the police should not have obtained same without a warrant, for which they may not have met the probable cause requirements. Morris County Superior Court Judge Dangler refused to suppress the evidence obtained from the phone call. The NJ Appellate Court upheld Dangler’s decision, finding there was no reasonable expectation of privacy in a cell phone number and, even if there was, DeFranco waived it by giving the victim his number in the past. The Appellate Court also noted DeFranco’s choice to recall intimate details of his past during a voluntary conversation with a victim he had sexually abused in the past. This blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney regarding your specific matter. If you are charged with a crime, you should consult an experienced criminal law attorney immediately in order to protect your rights. For more information on megan’s law, sex-crimes, endangering the welfare of a minor or other criminal law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com.

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