On March 9, 2016, the Supreme Court of New Jersey in State v. Feliciano, ___ N.J. ___ (2016) upheld and modified the “roving wiretap” provision contained in State and Federal law that permits law enforcement, under certain circumstances, to intercept communications on newly discovered phones without first returning to a judge to obtain a new warrant.
State v. Feliciano
Defendant-appellant Feliciano had challenged the constitutionality of the roving wiretap provision under state law. Feliciano claimed that because the roving wiretap provision does not require law enforcement to state with particularity the telephone facility and get court approval in advance, it violates the Fourth Amendment and Article 1, Paragraph 7 of the NJ State Constitution. The trial court denied Feliciano's motion to suppress the wiretap evidence and the Appellate Division upheld the lower court's ruling.
Under state law, a judge must have previously made a determination about the target's purpose to thwart interception by changing phones. N.J.S.A. 2A:156A-9(g)(2)(b) & (c). Once that predicate determination has been made, if the target then switches phones thereafter, law enforcement can monitor the new phone under the existing warrant.