Bloomberg Law’s® extensive network of reporters and editors helps subscribers to stay ahead of legal
A gang member in Texas can’t suppress evidence of his mobile phone’s location, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held May 22 ( United States v. Wallace , 2017 BL 170530, 5th Cir., No. 16-40701, 5/22/17 ).
The court had to decide an open question in the Fifth Circuit: whether obtaining prospective cell site data constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Courts nationwide have been examining the issue of applying the Fourth Amendment to mobile phone location data.
It’s not a search, the court held, affirming the lower court’s denial of William Wallace’s motion to suppress.
The Fifth Circuit previously held obtaining historical location information from a service provider isn’t a search. There’s little difference between historical and prospective cell site data, the court said.
That’s because mobile phone users voluntarily disclose their locations to service providers, so they have no reasonable expectation of privacy in that information such that it would trigger the Fourth Amendment, the court said.
The Sixth Circuit, the only other circuit to rule on the issue so far, also held obtaining prospective cell site data isn’t a search, the court said.
“When criminals use modern technological devices to carry out criminal acts and to reduce the possibility of detection, they can hardly complain when the police take advantage of the inherent characteristics of those very devices to catch them,” the court said, quoting the Sixth Circuit case.
Judge Edith Brown Clement wrote the unanimous opinion for the three judge panel. Judges Edith H. Jones and Stephen A. Higginson were also on the panel.
The Hatley Law Firm, Victoria, Texas, represented Wallace. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Texas, Houston, represented the government.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jordan S. Rubin in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: C. Reilly Larson at email@example.com
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)