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Supreme Court to Rule on Significant Fourth Amendment Case

December 22, 2017, on Criminal Defense Articles |

The Fourth Amendment provides important protections against unlawful search and unlawful seizure. A New York City federal criminal defense attorney can provide representation to defendants in ensuring that their Fourth Amendment rights are protected.  If the Constitution was violated, the evidence unlawfully collected cannot be used against the defendant to secure a conviction, nor can any evidence obtained as a direct result of the Fourth amendment violation be used against the defendant.  The protections are strong because of the fundamental right to privacy and the right to be secure in one's own person.

However, as technologies have changed, new questions have arisen regarding when a defendant is entitled to Fourth Amendment protections.  As CNN reports, the Supreme Court is now addressing a key Fourth Amendment case that raises important questions about privacy in a digital era.

The Supreme Court Considers How the Fourth Amendment Impacts Cell Phone Privacy

According to CNN, the key question in the Fourth Amendment case that the Supreme Court is currently considering centers around whether or not the government needs a warrant if it seeks digital data from a cell phone provider that reveals the location of the phone user. 

Because of the way that cell phones communicate with phone towers, it is relatively simple to determine where a person was at any given time in circumstances where that individual has a cellular phone. The U.S. government is arguing that the government does not need a warrant when obtaining data on a user's location because the records come from the phone company and so individuals have diminished privacy rights.  By voluntarily turning over information to the phone company, people no longer have an expectation of privacy, according to the government's argument.

However, CNN indicates many of the Justices on the Supreme Court appeared skeptical of the government's argument, at least in their comments during questioning. Justice Sotomayor expressed concern about the government having the power to do a dragnet sweep and worry that the cell phone could potentially be pinged in a doctor's office or a bedroom. If the government does indeed have the power to obtain cell phone location records, they would essentially know where everyone is at all times.

Other Justices questioned the privacy risks of 24/7 tracking and considered whether lines should be drawn regarding how sensitive data is when determining what protections the Fourth Amendment provides.  Courts in the past, however, have held that there is a reduced privacy interest in location data because of the fact that third parties have already been voluntarily provided with the information.

It remains unclear how this case will be decided. One thing that is clear, however, is that technology has contributed to an erosion of privacy rights that could impact your case in adverse ways if you are being tried for a criminal offense. If you have been accused of wrongdoing, it is imperative that you protect your rights. A New York City federal criminal defense attorney can provide you with help in understanding how the Constitution can protect you. Give us a call today to find out more.

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