Police Searches and Phone Information Privacy
A potential challenge to these rules that in most instances prevent the police from looking at the private information you keep on your phone will soon be heard by the Supreme Court. The question is whether police can go to telecommunications companies and get copies of records of your location based on your cell phone usage. The way this works is that cell phones communicate with nearby cell towers many times a minute to check for calls and texts. These electronic interactions have the consequence of recording where you are at all times. In the case before the Court, Carpenter v. United States, federal officers got this information without first getting a search warrant. Instead they relied on a rule in federal law that allows them to search electronic records when there is a “reasonable suspicion” that a crime has occurred. Carpenter and his attorneys are arguing that obtaining that information without a warrant was a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.Creating this information from the everyday actions of using phones to communicate with others should not give law enforcement the right to seize those records without going through the constitutionally mandated process of getting a search warrant. These records of location are just as personal as the materials we have in our houses and cars. The Supreme Court’s decision in this important case will be summarized here when in comes out later in the Court’s term.Legal Representation in Privacy CasesIf you are arrested, keep in mind that you cannot be forced to give up your passcode. It is your right to decline sharing this information. However, the police can still take your phone as evidence and then attempt to get a search warrant. But even in this case you cannot be compelled to tell them the code because that would violate your right against self-incrimination. The police can then decide if they want to use a technology expert to try to open the phone.In any case involving privacy and technology, it is in your interest to have strong legal representation. With my extensive experience as a Sacramento region defense attorney, I protect my clients’ rights in these complicated cases. Call me at (916) 442-1200 for a confidential and free consultation on your case.