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Fourth Amendment Expands to Cell Phone Data

Supreme Court Rules on Illegal Search & Seizure

The Supreme Court recently decided a case that will have long term affects on the criminal justice system and defendant rights. In Carpenter vs. United States, the case rested on whether the government has the ability to obtain cell phone data without a warrant. In the case which is now 8 years old, the defendant (Timothy Carpenter) was found to be in close proximity to a series of robberies via cell phone towers. The government asked a wireless carrier for his records without a warrant and was able to determine his location. Carpenter was later convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 116 years in prison as a result of the seizure of phone records.

Ultimately, the chief justices ruled, the government and police are required to obtain a warrant before searching through phone records. This decision further defines illegal search and seizures and protects a smart phone’s data from being used to arrest and convict of a crime.

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