New Methods Being Used By Law Enforcement To Gain Cellphone Data
Technology is allowing police to obtain smartphone data without needing a warrant.
Recently, there has a lot of media coverage about a Supreme Court decision that requires police to get warrants before searching cellphones. While this ruling is a huge step toward protecting the rights of individuals suspected of crimes, law enforcement may have other means of obtaining the personal information they need to make an arrest without having to go through these channels.
When police are investigating a drug crime or other allegation of criminal activity, they often want to know where an individual was at a certain time. Were they in an area where drug trafficking is known to occur? Did they place any calls to anyone known to be involved in the drug trade?
Since most people have a smartphone, this information can be very easy for police to learn, and in many cases, they do not need a warrant. Police can contact cellphone providers for data in what is commonly called a "tower dump." In a tower dump, investigators get all the tracking data for individuals whose phones are currently sending a signal off of a phone tower.
This data can reveal where a person's phone was located at a particular time, as well as if any calls or texts were being made. Police could use this information to decide which individuals to focus on when conducting their investigation, and in some situations, use the data to then obtain a search warrant.
There is also new technology that could allow law enforcement to collect this data without even having to contact the cellphone providers. Some agencies have purchased their own mini-towers that can be used to gather data from phones in a limited geographic range, usually limited to a mile or less. Not much is known about these devices, as there are non-disclosure agreements in place preventing discussion about which departments use this type of equipment.
If you have been charged with a drug crime or other criminal offense, you need to realize that this is a potentially serious situation. You will not be able to offer up an explanation that makes these charges simply go away. You should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to immediately begin protecting your rights.
Your attorney will investigate your case, and help you determine the best possible options for you. It is important that you understand how a conviction can harm your future, as well as the potential punishments that may be imposed. Your attorney can explain any deals that the prosecution may be offering, and also offer you advice about going to trial. Each case is different. You need to work with someone who is there to fight for you.