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Recent SCOTUS Decision Broadens Privacy Rights

July 10, 2018

A landmark decision that may have a huge impact on people in Florida was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 22. The decision will greatly expand the privacy protections that people enjoy under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear an appeal of a conviction by a man whose charges largely rested on location information from his cell phone carrier. Cell phone companies gather location information for business reasons. Under the third-party exception to warrant requirements, law enforcement officers have been able to gain access to this information without warrants.

However, the convicted man challenged the ability of the police to access this information without probable cause. In his case, law enforcement officers tracked all of his movements over a period of 127 days to tie him to area robberies. They did not seek or obtain a warrant. The Supreme Court ruled that phone technology has advanced to the point that the location data is very precise. Law enforcement officers will now need to have probable cause and get warrants before they can use the location information from the cell phone companies.

An individual who is facing criminal charges might want to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Legal counsel may uncover evidence that the police collected evidence improperly. If the officers did not follow the correct ways to investigate the case and gather the evidence, the attorney may file an evidentiary motion that seeks to suppress the evidence. If the attorney wins the motion to suppress, the charges against the client could be dismissed.