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Showing posts from 2018

The Trial Penalty

Have you heard the phrase "prosecutors will decide"? It's often used by news stations when discussing a crime and its sentence. As John Oliver pointed out on one episode of his late night show, most people have heard this phrase before, but they have heard it so much that they forget what it means. Prosecutors have the power to decide whether and what to charge against someone. They also have the power to hold crucial evidence until the last minute. Because the evidence is withheld, the case will seem to be stacked against the charged. For this reason, many of the accused choose to plead guilty and try to plead for a lower sentence instead of risking receiving a life sentence in a trial.

You and Your Tracking Device (aka cell phone): U.S. Supreme Court Issues a Narrow Win for Privacy

Criminal Law Update: Summer 2018

Last month, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a monumental, long-awaited decision on privacy rights, Fourth Amendment, and digital data. In United States v. Carpenter, the Court ruled that to access an individual’s historical cell phone data, law enforcement needs a warrant supported by probable cause. This applies to the “396 million cell phone service account” in the U.S., as identified by the Court. To hear the figure is overwhelming - 396 million cell phone accounts for a nation of 326 million! The 5-4 split decision displayed the complexities of applying Fourth Amendment law to evolving and invasive technology which has become a natural part of American lives.
What is Historical Cell Phone Data?
Cell phones operate by connecting to a set of radio antennas called “cell sites” which are typically mounted on towers. These cell sites have directional antennas that divide the covered area into sectors (see figures below). The cell …