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June 2018 Archives

Supreme Court: Police need a warrant to track cellphone locations

Citing "the seismic shifts in digital technology" since the last time it considered the issue, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that people have a reasonable expectation that their cellphone's location data will be private. A reasonable expectation of privacy means that the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures applies. Therefore, law enforcement must obtain a warrant before seeking cellphone location data except in emergency situations.

Running from the police just makes things worse in most cases

When a confidential police informant said that a certain State College man was selling drugs from his residence on Carnegie Drive, the police still had work to do to make their case against him. Tipsters and police informants don't always provide accurate information and sometimes may be motivated by bias, self-interest or other questionable factors.

Drug dealers can be charged with homicide in overdose cases

Although illicit drugs are dangerous, some college students nevertheless choose to experiment with them. Sometimes, this involves supplying friends with illegal drugs or prescription medications. Few of these young people anticipate that their friends may suffer a fatal overdose. But if this does happen, the dealer may have to cope with far more than grief and survivor's guilt. Due to a once-obscure Pennsylvania law that is making a resurgence, the person who supplies the drugs used in a fatal overdose may be charged with the victim's murder.

Does your freedom from warrantless search extend to rental cars?

Unfortunately, far too many people in Pennsylvania and across the country are unaware of their right to deny police entry to their home or vehicle without a search warrant signed by a judge. Even if someone asks police to see a warrant, officers respond with questions like, “If you don’t have anything to hide, why don’t you just let us in?”