The NJ Supreme Court recently issued an important ruling on police search & seizure issues and came down strongly against a convicted drug dealer who challenged the legality of roving wiretaps by police in New Jersey.
Hector Feliciano was one of several people arrested for distributing drugs, including heroin, throughout Camden, NJ. Feliciano was linked to what prosecutors said was a major drug trafficking enterprise because law enforcement got judicial approval for roving wiretaps.
While most wiretaps are issued specific to a particular phone or communication device, with police needing to return to a judge for each subsequent wiretap, a “roving” wiretap is far broader in scope and applies to any devices used by a suspect. This means that when a suspect changes phones, police detectives and other investigators do not need to return to a judge to get an additional warrant. The risk of forcing law enforcement to get a new warrant each time is that crucial evidence will be lost during the delay.
In this case, Feliciano reportedly used “burner” phones for brief periods of time and then switched phones when communicating with his co-conspirators in the drug-dealing operation. Feliciano was one of 24 people who were busted during the investigation by Camden County police. The suspects were allegedly selling heroin, cocaine, marijuana and MDMA.
In a unanimous decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of roving wiretaps by NJ law enforcement in the case. The court stated that these kinds of wiretaps are often necessary for police to be able to intercept communications made by criminal suspects who “can effectively avoid being intercepted” by switching phones.
One limit placed on roving wiretaps is that NJ police must still notify the judge within 48 hours of learning about the new cell phone or device.
For more information about this important drug crime ruling, read the NJ.com article, “‘Roving’ Wiretaps OK by N.J. Supreme Court.”
If you or a loved one has been charged with heroin possession, marijuana possession, prescription drug possession or any other drug offense in New Jersey, you should talk to a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The experienced South Jersey criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help you fight your drug crime charges and avoid the most severe penalties. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.