When a person is arrested for a crime in Florida, he/she is taken to the local jail. If he/she cannot make bond, he/she will remain there until the criminal case is resolved. Inmates in the local jail generally have phone privileges, but they are informed that each call is recorded. In many cases, particularly the more serious cases and cases that are likely to go to trial, prosecutors will retrieve the jail call recordings in the hopes of finding incriminating statements made by the defendant. While all inmates know these jail calls are recorded by the state, it is amazing how often inmates say things during these jail calls that impair their cases.
As criminal defense lawyers in Jacksonville, Florida, we always inform our clients never to talk about their cases during jail calls. The risk of doing so drastically outweighs any benefit of having such a recorded conversation.
For example, in a recent drug trafficking case near Jacksonville, Florida, the defendant was charged with conspiracy to traffic in various controlled substances by ordering them off of the internet from a foreign country. The police were able to obtain a printout of all of the drug orders the defendant made from his computer. They were able to access his computer because the defendant called a friend from jail and gave the friend his computer username and password and asked the friend to access the site he used to order the drugs. The state obtained a copy of this recorded phone call and used that information to get into the defendant’s computer.
The criminal defense lawyer filed motions to try and keep out the evidence of the defendant’s purchase orders over the internet. However, the court rejected those arguments. The state was able to use the defendant’s recorded jail call with his friend to show how the defendant was using his computer to bring in large quantities of drugs by purchasing them over the internet. Had the defendant not spoken about this in a recorded jail call, the state may have never come across this very incriminating evidence.