July 24, 2013, Newark, NJ- In our increasingly technological world, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to have complete privacy. Our online activities are tracked and analyzed by governments, corporations, and search engines. Information about who we call, when we call them, and how often we call is carefully collected, stored and sometimes analyzed. Our precise locations can be determined simply by tracking the GPS signal on our cell phones.
Privacy in America has taken a few hits lately due to the technologies that employ in our daily lives. However, there are glimmers of hope that privacy is completely dead. That glimmer was apparent in a recent decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court. The court’s July decision placed a greater importance on an individual’s right to privacy and said that police must get a warrant to obtain information from a person’s cell phone provider.
The case centered on a man who police believed was responsible for the string of burglaries. As part of their investigation, police spoke to the man’s girlfriend and searched a storage unit the couple rented together. After the search, the man and his girlfriend took off and could not be located by friends or the police who had an arrest warrant.
Going on the word of witnesses, who told police the man threatened to harm his girlfriend, they petitioned the man’s cell phone provider to obtain their physical location. On at least three occasions that night, police contacted to T-Mobile get the man’s location, but they never produced a warrant for the search.
Based on the information from the cell phone provider, police went to the hotel where the couple were staying and placed them under arrest,. When they entered the hotel room, police found stolen property and marijuana.
The suspect was charged with several burglary offenses. He pleaded guilty to the charges, but his attorneys moved to have the evidence collected the night of his arrest suppressed. His trial court approved the suppression motion stating the police should have obtained a warrant because the man had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The police argued the evidence was admissible under an exception to the warrant requirement which only allows warrantless searches in emergency situations. If someone’s life is in danger, which the State argued the police believed to be true in this case, a warrant would not be necessary.
In the unanimous opinion, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote, “Disclosure of cell-phone location information, which cell-phone users must provide to receive service, can reveal a great deal of personal information about an individual.” He added, “Yet people do not buy cell phones to serve as tracking devices or reasonably expect them to be used by the government in that way. We therefore find that individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the location of their cell phones under the State Constitution.”
Police are there to protect people, but there are frequent occasions where they overreach or violate the suspect’s rights. If you are facing any type of criminal charge; I will make certain none of your constitutional rights were violated before, during or after your arrest.
I will provide a solid defense by examining the evidence against you and the circumstances of your arrest. My goal is prove your innocence beyond doubt and keep you from being incarcerated. If you need a strong and knowledgeable defender contact my Newark office to set up a consultation.