The NJ Supreme Court recently handed down a decision that potentially expands the ability of state law enforcement to use roving wiretaps in criminal cases.
The important decision was issued in the case of Hector Feliciano, a convicted drug dealer who had been accused of trafficking heroin throughout Camden, New Jersey. Camden County prosecutors had argued that Feliciano was the leader of a heroin distribution network and secured a conviction in Camden County Superior Court. This prompted Feliciano’s criminal defense attorneys to challenge the conviction on the basis that the wiretaps used to secure crucial evidence against their client were unconstitutional.
In 2007, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and the Philadelphia/Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force opened an investigation into the suspect. As part of the investigation, police applied for a number of wiretap orders, including eight “roving” wiretaps.
A roving wiretap allows law enforcement to follow a particular suspect, as opposed to tracking a specific phone. The need for roving wiretaps has become greater in recent years as police have struggled to keep up with drug dealers who avoid surveillance by discarding their phones at high rates. The NJ Supreme Court noted the difficulties faced by police, stating that a suspect who switches telephones “can effectively avoid being intercepted.”
The New Jersey Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, has now affirmed the constitutionality of the roving wiretaps. In the drug crime case against Feliciano, the NJ Supreme Court upheld the decision of the lower superior court, as well as the NJ Appellate Division court.
For further information about this case, see the NJ.com article, “‘Roving’ Wiretaps OK by N.J. Supreme Court.”
If you or a loved one faces criminal charges for heroin possession, heroin distribution or any other drug offense in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you need to talk to a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Garber Law will help you fight your criminal charges. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation about your case.