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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.

Can I be placed at a crime scene with nothing more than cellphone records?

Answer:

Yes, you can. However, the use of cellphone records to place suspects at or near crime scenes is coming under attack in courts nationwide. Cellphone records are often used as evidence, relied upon to trace which cell tower was used to make or receive a call and then determine a caller's whereabouts. But experts say that using a single tower to precisely locate where someone was at the time of a crime has severe limitations. And while good criminal defense lawyers now recognize the problems with such evidence, the FBI continues to rely heavily on this form of 'evidence' in its investigations. As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I have argued the unreliability of this type of evidence.

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.

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!

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