Tracking Your Cell Phones: FL Supreme Court Holds Tracking by Law Enforcement Unconstitutional

By October 20, 2014 Uncategorized No Comments

The Florida Supreme Court recently handed down its ruling regarding the utilization of cell phone information by law enforcement to perform real time tracking of an individual's cell phone. In 2007, law enforcement received a tip about a large amount of narcotics moving through Broward County to Florida's west coast. Officers obtained a court Order authorizing the installation of a "pen register" and "trap and trace device" as to the Defendant's cell phone. A "pen register" records the telephone numbers dialed by the target phone while a "trap and trace device"  records the telephone numbers of incoming calls. Law enforcement then used this information provided by the cell service provider, which also included real time cell site location information given off by cell phones when calls are placed to monitor the Defendant's location in real time. In a 5-2 opinion, the majority held that the use of such cell site location information to track a person's movements, without having first demonstrated probable cause and secured a warrant, is a violation of the Fourth Amendment and constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure. The Court determined that a reasonable expectation of privacy of location as signaled by one's cell phone--even when on public roads--existed and is an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to recognize.

For Chief Justice Jorge Labarga's full opinion, click here: