New York Court Discusses Jail’s Release of Inmate’s Phone Calls to Prosecutors

When someone is arrested and charged with a serious New York crime, they are often subjected to pretrial incarceration. This may be because they are unable to afford bail on their new case, the Court held them without bail, or because they were on probation or parole at the time they were arrested for the new allegations. In any event, after being arrested and subsequently incarcerated, it is common for defendants to make several phone calls to friends, loved ones, and employers. These phone calls are recorded, and anyone charged with a New York crime should not discuss their case over the phone with anyone except their attorney.  These recorded phone calls have been increasingly used by prosecutors in New York as evidence in the criminal case.

A recent case issued by a New York appellate court held that a correctional facility does not violate a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights when it discloses the contents of an inmate’s phone conversations to the prosecution.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was facing charges of burglary and robbery, and was held at Rikers Island for eight months until his family was able to post bail. During his pretrial incarceration, the defendant made approximately 1,100 phone calls. At trial, the prosecution attempted to admit excerpts from four of those calls, containing incriminating statements. The defendant filed a motion to preclude the conversations from being admitted into evidence, arguing that their admission would violate his Fourth Amendment rights.

Evidently, the prison had informed the defendant that all his phone calls may be monitored in several ways, including in the inmate handbook, signs next to the phone, and with a recorded message preceding each phone call. However, the facility did not inform inmates that the phone calls would be recorded. There was no notice that the conversations would be provided to the prosecutor.

The court ultimately rejected the defendant’s contention that the admission of the conversations into evidence had violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The court explained that inmates do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their phone conversation while they are incarcerated because they are repeatedly informed that the conversations are monitored. Because inmates, including the defendant in this case, do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their phone conversations, the correctional facility is not conducting a “search” or “seizure” as defined under the Fourth Amendment when it opts to record the calls.

Have You Been Charged with a New York Crime?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with any type of New York crime, contact the dedicated New York criminal defense attorneys at Tilem & Associates to discuss your case. We represent clients who are accused of all kinds of criminal offenses, including New York drug crimes, gun crimes, theft crimes, and violent crimes. To learn more about how we can help you defend against the charges you are facing, call 877-377-8666 to schedule a free consultation today.

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