Our firm is fully operational and working remotely in the midst of the Coronavirus impacting New Jersey. Please feel free to call us or contact us online for a free consultation with one of our lawyers.

Your Right to Privacy when Making Phone Calls from the Police Station

New Jersey Supreme Court Says Recorded Phone Calls from the Police Station cannot be used as Evidence Against Defendants Facing Criminal Charges

Phone Calls when Arrested in New JerseyThe United States Constitution does not specifically state that individuals have a right to privacy. However, a long line of Supreme Court cases has carved out a right to privacy from the Bill of Rights. For example, Supreme Court cases have determined that the police cannot wiretap your home telephone without a warrant, cannot frisk you in the street for evidence of crime without probable cause and a warrant, nor can they police the bedroom for contraceptive use. Also, certain relationships contain legal privacy privileges, like doctors and patients, priests and penitents, and lawyers and clients. People expect to confide in these professionals and not have their confidences exposed to the public or used against them in a court of law. And in certain places and situations, the ordinary person can expect that their conversations are private, one of those being the police station telephone call an arrestee makes, even though the police record the call.

What to Know about Making a Phone Call from the Police Station

In a recent New Jersey Supreme Court case, State v. McQueen, the defendant’s police station telephone conversation was deemed private and not admissible evidence to support the prosecutor’s case against the defendant. McQueen made two phone calls, one from the police station and one from jail. Both recorded phone calls contained damning evidence of the location of a gun and the attempt to hide it. The defendant discarded the weapon when eluding the police at a traffic stop. McQueen’s lawyer filed a motion to suppress the contents of the telephone calls, alleging that the police collected both phone call recordings and gave them to the prosecutor against the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act and the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment against illegal search and seizures. The superior court judge agreed.

The Fourth Amendment anticipates a right to privacy from government intrusion when no evidence of a crime exists. That means that the police cannot go looking for criminal evidence in your car, at your home, or on your person without some reason to believe that a crime has taken place or will take place. So, for example, the police cannot stop you on the street because you “look like a criminal.” They may stop you if you look drunk since that may be evidence of a crime or infraction. Many municipalities have ordinances against being drunk in a public place. But even if they could stop someone who looks drunk, they cannot frisk the person for a gun without a reason or probable cause to believe that the person is involved with a crime or is illegally carrying a weapon. The Fourth Amendment protects people from intrusions, such as searches and seizures of the property or person without probable cause and a warrant to do so.

Important Things to Keep in Mind when Calling Someone from Jail

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the recorded phone call from the police station was a seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment. However, the jail telephone call recording was not private and could be used as evidence in a court of law and presented to a grand jury. All New Jersey jailhouses record telephone calls and inmates are made aware of that fact in writing and recorded messages at the start of each telephone call. The Correctional Center where McQueen made the phone call informs inmates that the facility may use recorded phone calls to prosecute them. As such, phone calls in prisons and jails do not fall under the protections of the Wiretapping Act. The Act requires law enforcement to file the proper warrant paperwork based on probable cause that a crime is occurring or about to occur to enable them to wiretap someone’s private telephone conversation.

The same is not valid for the police station phone call when McQueen expected privacy. There was no message notifying him that the police recorded his phone call or that they could use it against him. In fact, his expectation of privacy was evident by the way he behaved during the phone call: speaking softly into the phone so that no one could hear him. Accordingly, the Court held that the prosecutor could not seize the station telephone conversation recording without a warrant, as it violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights against illegal searches for and seizures of criminal evidence.

Protecting Privacy Rights from Police Intrusion in Criminal Investigations

The Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure by the police discussion hinges on an individual’s reasonable expectation that they may go about their daily lives in privacy without unexpected and uncalled-for police intrusion. Since the police did not obtain a warrant to take the recordings and turn them over to the prosecutor, they violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. Even though police already arrested him, he was not yet convicted and, thus, presumed innocent. Without notice that his conversation was not private, McQueen could reasonably believe that his telephone call was confidential and not subject to police seizure.

Defending the privacy rights of criminally charged individuals is what criminal defense lawyers do. Our primary concern in each new case is to examine whether the police or prosecutor infringed the defendant’s rights. Defense lawyers protect individuals’ constitutional rights before and after arrest, including the right not to speak to the police and to have an attorney. We ensure the police follow the laws that protect individual rights against unbridled authority and limitless interference in people’s lives. Warrants protect individuals and check police power. We prevent police from randomly collecting damning information about people without their knowledge on fishing expeditions and then being allowed to use that in the prosecutorial stage of a criminal case because we require judges to examine whether police have reason to investigate someone and seize property from them, as well as how this was carried out.

The Fourth Amendment’s presumed right to privacy is critical for criminal defense attorneys, as prosecutors cannot use illegal evidence against a defendant. As is evident from State v. McQueen, everyone has the right to be free from police misconduct that violates the constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed the defendant’s motion to suppress the police station recording.

Criminal Attorneys are one of the Essential Privacy Protectors.

So, suppose the police arrested you for a crime. In that case, you want to tell your attorney everything that occurred before, during, and after your arrest, so your attorney can be sure the state did not violate your privacy and other constitutionally protected rights. Contact the distinguished team of NJ criminal defense attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm at our local office nearest you for a free consultation before you speak to the police. We regularly meet people in jails throughout New Jersey to protect their rights when accused of crimes in Bergen County, Middlesex County, Passaic County, Morris County, Essex County, Union County, and Somerset County. Your liberty may depend on it.

Testimonials

  • No promises, just a Pro!

  • Excellent Lawyer... Helped me in every step off my Case..

  • Great work

  • Best lawyer!!

  • FRO removal success!!

  • Easy to work with, straightforward

  • Kept my license

  • Father of client

  • Excellent Attorney , Charges Dismissed as promised

  • Helped every step of the way

  • Avoid mandatory jail time on shoplifting charges

  • GREAT – HONEST- ATTORNEY -AND – VERY GOOD

  • Help

  • Did the job he was hired to do

  • Great lawyer

  • Simple assault charge was dropped

  • Top Notch Representation

  • Well worth it.

  • DUI Case Dismissed

  • 2 felony charges dismissed

  • Cameron bury

  • great attorney

  • Hands Down Professional and delivers results!!!

  • DUI case dismissed

  • 125 stars out of 10!!

  • Excellent at getting best outcome

  • Excellent Attorney

  • TRO Dismissal

  • Efficient Excellent attorney.

  • Excellent attorney

  • Travis successfully defended me in an unprecedented Final Restraining Order Trial with ease

  • Kick Ass Attorney!

  • Efficient and professional attorney

  • Great Lawyer And Great Results

  • Top Notch DUI Attorney

  • Client Domestic Violence

  • Restraining Order

  • A real pro in a time of need - DWI Dismissed.

  • The most experienced, patient and affordable attorney

  • Travis Tormey successfully had a False TRO against me dismissed.

  • Underaged Drinking

  • Underaged Drinking

  • DUI Dismissed

  • Saved me from a DUI. HIGHLY recommended

  • Restraining Order

  • Case dismissed with Data Driven Facts

  • Respectful. Attentive. Professional.

  • Trespassing and Under the Influence Disorderly Persons charges

  • If you are reading this- You have reached the right place! Undoubtedly, the BEST Law Firm in New Jersey!

  • Amazing attorney with a heart of gold

  • Exceeded my expectations, Highly Professional Attorney

  • Responsive and knowledgeable.

  • The Tormey law firm was very kind and professional

  • Expungement

  • Travis Tormey is a True Professional Who Kept Me Out of Jail

  • Saved me a whole ton of problems

  • Travis Tormey Review

  • A nightmare case, with a happy ending.

  • Elite NJ Marijuana Attorney! 5 Stars!!

  • An Excellent lawyer!

  • Great lawyer for DUI

  • I highly endorse Travis Tormey.

  • Travis Tormey Law Firm

  • Travis is a Lifesaver

  • Travis J. Tormey - Evaluation

  • Great Lawyer. Got me off exactly what I wanted

  • Consummate Professional!

  • Great Criminal Defense Lawyer

  • Good Service

  • Exceptional Lawyer

  • Exceptional Lawyer

  • Hired to defend me for aggravated assault

  • Hired to defend me in a restraning order

  • Excellent attorney, highly recommend his talents

  • DWI Counsel

  • I highly recommend Mr. Tormey

  • Great attorney

  • Travis Tormey, Esq. - Great Results!

  • Travis Tormey - Excellent Attorney-Kind and Trustworthy

  • Excellent Attorney-Trustworthy and Kind

  • An Outstanding lawyer!!! That will represent you in the correct way!

  • Excellent Attorney! You will not be dissapointed....

  • Travis Tormey Gets Results!

  • tormey

  • Success!!

  • Travis Tormey Review

  • Only Lawyer I Recommend

  • Very Grateful

  • Attorney review of Travis Tormey

  • Excellent

Experience You Can Trust

With unmatched knowledge and experience in the practice of law, the seasoned attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm are committed to serving their clients and tenaciously confronting the allegations against them.

We will examine every facet of your case in order to defend your constitutional rights and reputation. With a dedicated legal advocate to assist you, our attorneys will ensure that you are never forced to navigate the complex legal process on your own.

Learn More About How to Fight Your Charges

If you've been charged with a criminal offense, disorderly persons offense, or traffic / DWI violation, you have the right to an attorney who will defend you against your charges and fight for your best interests. To learn more about how your attorney can fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced, click a link below to see our video library of legal defenses and strategies.

The Tormey Law Firm

Areas we serve

Bergen County, Essex County, Morris County, Passaic County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Somerset County including Morristown, Denville, Dover, Mount Olive, Parsippany, Hackensack, East Rutherford, Elmwood Park, Englewood, Fort Lee, Garfield, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Palisades Park, Paramus, Ridgefield Park, Saddle Brook, Teaneck, Clifton, and Wayne.

  • Hackensack Office

    254 State Street Hackensack, NJ 07601

    (201) 556-1570

    view larger map

  • Morristown Office

    55 Madison Avenue Suite 400, Morristown, NJ 07960

    (908) 336-5008

    view larger map