Criminal Law – Evidence – Wiretapping
Suspecting that petitioner and others were violating state narcotics laws, New York police tapped petitioner’s telephone pursuant to a warrant obtained in accordance with New York law. Acting upon information thus gained the police apprehended petitioner’s brother. In his possession was found, not the narcotics as suspected, but alcohol without the tax stamps required by federal law. This evidence was turned over to federal authorities. Prosecution for possessing and transporting distilled spirits without tax stamps thereon followed, during which petitioner’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained through the wiretap was denied. The Second Circuit affirmed the conviction, holding that although the evidence was obtained in violation of section 605 of the Federal Communications Act, it was admissible. On certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, held, reversed. Evidence obtained solely by state agents in violation of section 605 is inadmissible in federal courts. Benanti v. United States, 355 U.S. 96 (1957).