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Tag: Fourth Amendment

Cellphone Location Information: Warrant Required?

Cellphone Location Information: Warrant Required?

Update: In May 2016, the Fourth Circuit reconsidered the United States v. Graham decision “en banc.” The entire court, rather than a three-judge panel, gave the circuit’s final word on the case. The judges decided that it was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment for the government to obtain CSLI without a warrant. They relied heavily on the argument that cellphone users don’t have a reasonable expecation of privacy in CSLI because those users “voluntarily convey” the information by using their phones. On Wednesday a…

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Police Officers Can’t Search Hotel Records on Demand, but What Does That Mean?

Police Officers Can’t Search Hotel Records on Demand, but What Does That Mean?

On June 22, 2015, in Los Angeles v. Patel, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that cops can’t rummage through hotel records whenever they want. (576 U.S. ___ (2015).) The opinion, framed in terms of the hotel’s privacy interest rather than that of its guests, nixed part of a Los Angeles Municipal Code section. The code section in question mandated that hotel and motel operators (1) maintain certain records about their guests and (2) allow police officers to inspect those records on…

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SCOTUS: A Tracking Device Makes for a Search

SCOTUS: A Tracking Device Makes for a Search

At the tail end of March, the Supreme Court of the United States provided a little refresher on the relationship between modern technology and search-and-seizure law. In the case in question, the Court decided whether imposing a physical monitoring system on someone in order to collect data is a “search.” The case, Grady v. North Carolina, involved a man (Grady) who had been convicted of sexual offenses in 1997 and 2006. After completing the sentence for the second offense, the…

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California Court: Police Can’t Take DNA From Arrestees

California Court: Police Can’t Take DNA From Arrestees

A California law known informally as the DNA Act requires that law enforcement take a DNA sample from every adult arrested for or charged with any felony. The sample extraction—via cheek swab—is to occur soon after arrest. (Cal. Penal Code §§ 296.1, 296.) The U.S. Supreme Court reviewed a somewhat similar law in 2013, with a case called Maryland v. King. (133 S. Ct. 1958 (2013).) The high court decided that the cheek-swab collection of a suspect’s DNA after arrest…

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Supreme Court: Officers Don’t Need to Know (all) the Law

Supreme Court: Officers Don’t Need to Know (all) the Law

Ignorance of the law is no defense. You may have heard of this legal maxim, which is meant to convey that, in most instances, doing something illegal is—well, illegal—even if you didn’t know it was illegal. In essence, you’re credited with knowing the law, whether or not you do. But what about the other side of the coin? What if an officer believes some act violates the law when it really doesn’t, and detains you due to that mistaken belief?…

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