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New Supreme Court ruling expands privacy rights

A recent Supreme Court decision may have far-reaching implications on criminal cases in Washington. According to some legal experts, the court's ruling greatly expanded the privacy protections of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on June 22 related to a case in which a defendant challenged his conviction on the basis that the police had relied on his cell phone location records without a warrant. Wireless carriers gather cell phone location data for business reasons. With the advances in cell phone technology, this data includes information about the precise locations of each phone, meaning that law enforcement officers are able to see every place that a phone owner goes.

The appellant's conviction was largely based on the data from his cell phone location records, which the officers had obtained without a warrant. The court ruled that police officers must have probable cause to get the records because of the extensive information that is contained in them. Before the decision, law enforcement officers were able to secure copies of the location records under the third-party exception to warrant requirements.

People who are facing allegations of criminal wrongdoing may want to get legal help as soon as possible. A criminal defense attorney may review the evidence that is being used against the client and identify potential defenses. If any of the evidence was gathered in a manner that was in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the attorney may file evidentiary motions to try to have the evidence suppressed. If the attorney wins their suppression motions, the evidence in question may not be used in court.

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