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Evidence in New Jersey sex case violates privacy, can't be used

The Fourth Amendment guarantees our right to privacy. It not only protects citizens against unreasonable searches, but also protects various forms of communication. Illegal wiretaps are an especially serious matter because they not only violate the constitutional rights of the intended target, but also everyone that communicates with that person. Any evidence that is obtained from an illegal wiretap can be suppressed in a criminal trial.

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently reinforced that constitutional right by wholly ruling evidence in asexual assault case brought before them must be excluded. They stated that communication interceptions must have approval by the attorney general, the county prosecutor or an appropriate designee before a wiretap is put into place. In this particular case, investigators arranged for a wiretap on the phone of a girl who accused her father of child molestation. The girl’s mother approved the wiretap and the paperwork was started. The authorization forms did not have the necessary signature from the Attorney General’s office until after a phone call between the girl and her father containing incriminating remarks was recorded. As a result, the lower court would not allow the evidence; upon appeal, the high court upheld that ruling.

This case underscores the importance of having a seasoned defense attorney to fight for the rights of the accused. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial, regardless of their alleged crime. Those who are facing criminal charges may want to consult with an attorney. The long-term consequences of sex crimes are too serious to leave to chance.

Source: The Star-Ledger, “Wiretaps must be approved beforehand, N.J. court rules in child sex-abuse case,”Salvador Rizzo, July 12, 2013

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