NJ Attorney General's Office Seeks to Obtain Phone Records Without Warrant
New Jersey Assistant Attorney General Ronald Susswein is challenging a 32-year-old ruling by the NJ State Supreme Court. The original ruling (State v. Hunt) requires prosecutors to obtain a warrant in order to get access to a defendant's phone records. Now, the Attorney General's office is looking to change the way phone records are obtained in an ongoing Monmouth County case (State v. Lunsford) in order to make it easier for the prosecution to use these phone records as evidence.
Currently, if you are arrested and charged with a crime, the prosecuting lawyers in New Jersey may not access these records without a warrant, which helps to protect defendants during criminal proceedings. A ruling in State v. Lunsford could remove some of these protections, making people charged with crime in NJ more vulnerable.
If the rules change and prosecutors are able to use phone records (and possibly even cell phone data) without a warrant, it will be more important than ever for defendants to have quality legal representation. Considering this potential privacy threat, hiring knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers in New Jersey could be the only way to protect your private communications. Don't let the state take advantage of you; know your rights. Currently, the prosecution cannot use your phone records in court without first obtaining a warrant and establishing probable cause.
In accordance with this mindset, in the case of Riley v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a warrant is generally needed to search the digital content of a cell phone in the event of an arrest. This opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court seems to back up the New Jersey Supreme Court decision that protects the private phone records of defendants.
State v. Lunsford
The current case, State v. Lunsford, is a drug crime case. The outcome of this case could reduce the amount of privacy defendants have in New Jersey. The defendant's lawyers in New Jersey are attempting to fight a subpoena for his Verizon cellphone records (a grand jury subpoena is used to obtain phone records during a criminal investigation).
How It Could Affect You
If you are pulled over in your vehicle for suspicion of a crime or arrested in connection with a crime in NJ, a warrant is needed to obtain your personal phone records and cell phone data. However, the office of the New Jersey Attorney General is attempting to restrict these rights. A ruling in favor of the prosecution could mean that law enforcement and prosecutors would have the ability to view your personal records without obtaining a warrant.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in NJ
If you are currently being charged for a criminal offense in New Jersey, contact a criminal defense attorney from Villani & DeLuca to help protect your rights during the investigation and trial process. Our lawyers in NJ are highly skilled in the area of criminal law and protecting your privacy. We are available 24/7 for a free consultation. Call us today at (732) 709-7757.