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People in Florida Have No Right to Privacy in Historical Cell Phone Site Information

Cell phones have become so common that just about everyone has one and many people have multiple cell phones. They are also effective tools to help police investigate crimes and make arrests. Police officers can obtain information from cell phone service providers that tell the police where a person was at any given time when he/she was using a cell phone. This can be particularly important when a person is charged with a crime and the police need evidence that the person was at or near the crime scene around the time the crime occurred.

In a recent criminal case in Florida south of Jacksonville, a defendant was charged with committing a robbery and a battery at a house in a particular neighborhood. The police obtained the defendant’s historical cell site records to show that he was in the area of the robbery and battery around the time the crimes occurred. The criminal defense lawyer tried to suppress those records claiming that the police obtained those cell site records in violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. However, the court disagreed with the criminal defense attorney. Because the cell site records show only where a person has been (and not where he/she is presently), the Fourth Amendment protections do not apply.

In other words, in Florida the police can fairly easily obtain a person’s historical cell site records to establish where a person with his/her cell phone was around the time of the crime by claiming that such evidence is relevant to an ongoing criminal case.