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Court ruling an update to the Fourth Amendment

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of Carpenter v United States, and the ruling has major implications for privacy rights in New York and elsewhere. The court determined that authorities needed a warrant to access the man's cell site location information (CSLI). Prior to the Carpenter decision, officers only needed to have a good reason to believe that accessing this information would legitimately help in a given matter.

The plaintiff in the Carpenter case was a man who was taken into custody for robbery based on CSLI. Based on this information, authorities were able to track his whereabouts for 127 days prior to apprehending him. Legal precedent said that there was no right to privacy when it came to information handed over to a third-party. However, most people have no choice as to the data transmitted from a phone to a cell tower or other collection point.

Justice Roberts chose to side with the four more liberal justices while all four conservatives wrote their own dissents. Roberts found that the amount of detailed data that could be collected was far greater than the basic data that could be gleaned from a landline telephone. By limiting the ability of authorities to access this information, the court's ruling is seen as a modernization of the Fourth Amendment.

Regardless of the type of charge a person may face, he or she could face significant penalties if convicted. These penalties may include a fine, suspension of professional or other licenses and jail or prison time. It may also lead to a loss of voting rights or the ability to own a gun for many years. A criminal defense attorney may take steps to protect a defendant's rights. This might include arguing that evidence was collected in an unconstitutional manner.

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