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Can the police track my whereabouts when I use my cell phone?

Answer:

Without a search warrant police tracking is illegal . The Supreme Court of Florida, in Tracey v. State, ruled, on October 16, 2014, that the police cannot access real time cell site location information in order to track a person using his or her cell phone without first having probable cause to do so (and a search warrant). The Court held that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the location signals transmitted by his or her cell phone - even on public roads. As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I can tell you that the police use this type of surveillance every day.

Can police keep cash they find in a car stopped for a mere traffic infraction?

Answer:

Unfortunately, yes the police can keep the cash and they do, every day. The law enforcement practice is known as civil asset forfeiture, in which the police seize cash or goods from a person suspected of a crime, even if no charges are ever brought against that person. Since 2001, police have seized a staggering $2.5 billion in cash from people who were never charged with a crime. As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I represent people fighting civil asset forfeitures.

If the police mistakenly find contraband in my car, will the case be dismissed?

Answer:

It should be, as it stands right now, but the law may soon change. Florida police officers pull motorists over every day based on mistakes of law. As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer,I represent people every day who are the victims of police 'mistakes of law'. In the case of Damian Leslie v. Florida, the police pulled over Mr. Leslie because he did not have a center rearview mirror. The cop believed this to be a traffic violation; it was not. When Leslie pulled over, the cop observed three baggies of marijuana in his lap while he was sitting in his vehicle. The cop then searched the car further and found some cocaine.

Can the police use a stingray to track the location of my cell phone?

Answer:

A stingray is not just a fish that glides around the ocean floor with a long tail. It's also a shorthand term for an IMSI catcher, which simulates a cellphone tower to trick nearby mobile devices (like your cellphone) into connecting with them, thereby revealing their location. A stingray can see and record a device's unique ID number and traffic data, as well as information that points to it's location. By moving a stingray around, the police can triangulate a device's location with greater precision than is possible using data obtained from a carrier's fixed tower location. And yes, the police in Florida can and do use this controversial surveillance tool to track your cell phone. I have seen it done as a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer.

Can the police search my car because of it's color?

Answer:

No, they cannot police search your car because of it's color. The Florida Supreme Court recently decided State v. Teamer (July 3, 2014), in which a person was charged with drug trafficking and possession after the vehicle he was driving was stopped by a deputy sheriff who noticed an inconsistency between the actual color of the vehicle Mr. Teamer was driving and the color indicated on the vehicle's registration. How would a cop know this, you might ask, from his police cruiser? The police are told that, when sitting in traffic, or watching a vehicle stopped at a light, for example, to use their on-board computers to run random license plates to check if there are any outstanding warrants or other discrepancies. As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I can tell you that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office does this routinely.

Can the police search my home if I say no but my co-tenant says yes?

Answer:

No, the police cannot search your home (without a search warrant) if you do not consent, even if your co-tenant (say, your wife or girlfriend) gives their consent, provided that you stay physically put on the premises. But the answer is yes, the police can search your home without a warrant if you leave the premises (even if the police arrest you! ) after having objected to the police searching your home if your co-tenant consents, and is the only one left at your home. This is a strange and difficult concept. As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I litigate search issues constantly. The following two Supreme Court cases will illustrate the point of how difficult the law is to understand in this area. Scott Randolph was arrested for drug possession after the police found cocaine in his home. The police did not have a search warrant to search Randolph's home, but Randolph's wife consented to the search. Randolph was also present at the time of the search and objected to the police's request. The police searched anyway and recovered cocaine. At his trial, Randolph's lawyer argued that the search was unconstitutional because Randolph never gave the police consent to search. The prosecutor argued that the wife's consent was sufficient. The trial court ruled for the prosecution and Randolph was convicted. Randolph appealed his conviction and the Supreme Court sided with Randolph, holding that when two co-occupants are present and one consents to a search while the other refuses, the search is unconstitutional and a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The case was Georgia v. Randolph.

Is it legal for the police to search my cell phone?

Answer:

Not without a search warrant, it isn't legal for the police to search your phone. As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I fight illegal searches by the police. The Supreme Court of the State of Florida recently ruled that the police cannot access the personal data on your cell phone without a search warrant. In Smallwood v. Florida, the police recovered Cedric Smallwood's cell phone when they arrested him for the robbery of a convenience store in Jacksonville. The phone was in Smallwood's pocket when he was arrested. The police searched the photographs on Smallwood's phone (without his consent) and found several incriminating photos (one of them showed the gun he used in the robbery next to a stack of fanned out money four days after the robbery - not too smart on Mr. Smallwood's part). This and other photographs were introduced against Mr. Smallwood at the time of his trial. He was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 50 years in prison - ouch!

Can the police to pull me over and search my car for no reason?

Answer:

No, they cannot search your car for no reason. It is against the law for the police to use a 'pretext' (a made up reason) to pull you over and then use that pretext (whether it be a broken taillight, a cracked windshield, a failure to signal a lane change or speeding) to search your car for contraband like drugs and guns. But of course, this happens every day on our Florida highways. As a Jacksonville criminal attorney, I have seen cops come up with some very original reasons for why they pulled over certain motorists. The cops know that drugs and guns are routinely transported on the Florida interstates. But that doesn't mean they're allowed to pull you over based on a hunch. They have to have a reason - probable cause of criminal activity - to initiate a full blown search. I recently represented a young man who was pulled over near the Georgia border in Nassau County because he had several chains hanging from his rearview mirror, supposedly "obstructing his view' out the front windshield. He was even given a traffic ticket for this by the Nassau County Sheriff's Office. That was the 'pretext' the cop was going to use to conduct a search of my client's car. The real reason he was pulled over was that he was a young black man with long Rasta dreads driving a white Cadillac Escalade...in other words, Driving While Black. But the police aren't allowed to profile this way, so instead, they came up with the nonsense reason that my client's view out his front windshield was obstructed. They did this to justify the stop of my client's car in the first place.

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