NJ Supreme Court Suppresses Recorded Telephone Calls from Police Station

On August 10, 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided State v. Rahseem W. McQueen and Myshira T. Allen-Brewer. In this case, defendant McQueen was brought to the police station for fleeing a traffic stop and for making a false report that his car was stolen. McQueen made a phone call from the police station. He was not notified that this phone call would be recorded.

A detective found a gun near where the police pulled McQueen over. The detective then listened to McQueen’s phone call without a warrant or a subpoena. The detective heard McQueen tell his girlfriend, Myshira Allen-Brewer, about the gun.

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McQueen also made telephone calls to Allen-Brewer from the County Correction Center, which were recorded. However, the Correction Center gives notification that the phone calls are recorded. McQueen spoke with Allen-Brewer about the gun during these calls as well. The Prosecutor’s Office subpoenaed the phone calls from the Correction Center.

McQueen and Allen-Brewer were indicted by the grand jury. Both defendants argued to suppress the telephone conversations that were recorded. The trial court granted the suppression and the charges against Allen-Brewer were dismissed.

The State appealed to the Appellate Division which affirmed the suppression of the phone call from the police station. Allen-Brewer’s charges were appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court. Here charges were as follows: conspiracy to unlawfully possess a handgun under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 and N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2, attempted hindering under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3(a)(3) and 2C:5-1, and attempted obstruction of the administration of law or a government function under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-(1)a and 2C:5-1.

Ultimately, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the defendants had a reasonable expectation of privacy during their phone calls. The telephone recordings should be suppressed since the recordings were seized without a warrant or exigent circumstances.

When evidence is suppressed, it means that it cannot be used against a defendant at trial. In some cases, this could mean that the defendant’s charges will be dismissed, since the State would not be able to prove its case without the evidence that was suppressed.

Attorney Jason T. Komninos practices criminal defense in the State of New Jersey. Call (201)-343-4622 to schedule a consultation.