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warrant, Kane County criminal defense attorneyIn today’s digitally connected world, information is everywhere. If you need an answer to a question, a few taps on your smartphone can allow you to run a Google search. If you want to contact your friend, you can send him or her an instant message or even connect through video chat instantaneously. The stream of data, however, goes in both directions. Any time that your phone is turned on, it is sending signals to nearby cell towers about your location and whether you are available to receive a call.

Over the last few years, law enforcement agencies have been able to gather information from these signals with little more than a request to the wireless service providers, but a new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court says that a warrant must be obtained first.

The Case in Question

In 2013, a Detroit man was convicted on several charges related to armed robberies that had taken place in and around the city. The prosecution’s case was helped by cell phone evidence gathered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from the defendant’s cell phone service carrier. Using the Stored Communication Act, government agents needed only to show the wireless carrier that the information they were requesting was relevant to an ongoing investigation. The government did not believe that a warrant was necessary because they were not pulling the content of calls or messages. Instead, they were looking for location points.

The FBI was able to effectively track the man’s location at any given time over a stretch of more than four months—a task that included more than 13,000 individual points of location. Every time the man’s phone sent or received a location signal from a nearby cell tower, a record was made, and the government obtained access to those records.

At trial and on appeal, the courts refused to suppress the evidence, holding that the man did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy as it pertains his cell phone location records. The man continued his appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case earlier this year.

A Landmark Ruling

Last month, the Supreme Court reached a 5-4 decision to overturn the man’s conviction. The high court held that gathering cell-site location information (CSLI) is considered a search under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As such, a warrant is required before such data can be obtained by investigators.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of criminal cases have included CSLI evidence over the last two decades. Legal experts believe that the Supreme Court’s ruling will open the door to motions by defendants whose cases included such information. The decision also means that investigators will need more than a simple request letter to obtain CSLI in the future.

We Can Help

If you have been charged with any type of crime and you believe that your Fourth Amendment rights have been compromised, contact a skilled Kane County criminal defense attorney. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.

Sources:

https://www.wired.com/story/carpenter-v-united-states-supreme-court-digital-privacy/

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-402_h315.pdf

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rights, Elgin criminal defense attorneyCrime-related procedural television dramas often share many similarities. Among them is a scene in virtually every episode where a suspect is placed under arrest and taken into police custody. As the officer begins to put the handcuffs on, he or she usually starts to recite a few lines, beginning with, "You have the right to remain silent." Thanks to such depictions, most Americans are aware that these statements—called Miranda warnings—are an important part of the criminal justice process. A much smaller percentage of people, however, understand what the warnings actually mean and when they apply.

Miranda Rights vs. Miranda Warnings

There are two primary components of the Miranda warnings—the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Both of these elements have their basis in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees a criminal suspect rights regarding self-incrimination. The Sixth Amendment also guarantees the right to an attorney, but the warnings are focused on confessions and self-incrimination.

In short, the rights addressed by the Miranda warnings have been in place for more than 200 years, but the warnings themselves are the product of a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In that case, Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court determined that because the police did not remind a suspect of his rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present, the man’s subsequent confession was not admissible as evidence. From then on, Miranda warnings—a restatement of existing rights—have remained a crucial element of the arrest and interrogation processes.

Common Misconceptions

The exact wording of the recitation of Miranda warnings may differ slightly among arresting officers, but it will always be something similar to, "You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be you used against you in court. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you."

The Miranda warnings are not required to be given at the time of arrest necessarily, but they must be given before the suspect is questioned. If, for example, a suspect is arrested and not "read his Miranda rights," any spontaneous or voluntary comments or excuses he makes are admissible in court, even without a lawyer present. If the officer begins questioning the suspect before reading the warnings, however, any resulting information or confession is not admissible.

Once the Miranda warnings have been given, it is then up to the suspect to exercise his or rights. Any criminal suspect placed under arrest should refuse to answer any questions until an attorney can be present. It may be difficult and could even require an extra day or two in jail, but the risks of being tricked or pressured into self-incrimination are too great.

Charged With a Crime?

If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged a crime, it is imperative to seek legal help immediately. An experienced Kane County criminal defense attorney will work to protect your rights and ensure that law enforcement and prosecutors are held to the highest standards. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Sources:

http://www.mirandarights.org/

https://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/rights/landmark_miranda.html

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juvenile, Elgin criminal defense attorneyIn 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court found that giving a life sentence to a juvenile with no possibility of parole violated the juvenile’s Constitutional rights. Specifically, the justices found that such a sentence was barred by the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. However, after that decision there was some confusion about if the ban only applied to new sentences, or if it applied to older cases as well.

Decision Retroactive

In January of 2016 the Court held that its 2012 decision in the case Miller v. Alabama should be applied retroactively. This means that every juvenile in the country who was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole prior to the 2012 decision is entitled to a resentencing hearing. At the time of the decision, Illinois had some 100 inmates who would require resentencing. Some of the inmates had served decades in prison.

What Happens at a Resentencing Hearing

The juveniles that qualify for a resentencing hearing will not automatically be released. Likely, many will continue to serve lengthy sentences, but will have the terms of the sentence modified.

During a resentencing hearing the court will need to take into account what the U.S. Supreme Court called the inmates’ "transitory immaturity" when imposing a sentence. All of the inmates will have to be given the chance to apply for parole at some future date. The prosecution will be able to present evidence as to why leniency in a given case is not appropriate. The inmates will have the chance to present evidence about mitigating factors and why the court should impose a more lenient sentence. However, lengthy, decades-long sentences may still be imposed if the court decides the crimes and the circumstances warrant it.

 This most recent decision does not mean the end of litigation over sentences for juvenile offenders. Any juveniles who are resentenced to lengthy prison terms may seek to appeal the resentencing as either not in keeping with the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court or on some other ground.

It is also expected that lawyers for inmates convicted as juveniles that are given lengthy sentences will continue to try limit the length of a sentence imposed by arguing that if a life sentence without possibility of parole is cruel and unusual, a sentence that only releases a juvenile as an old man or woman is also cruel and unusual and therefore unconstitutional.

If you have been charged with a crime or have questions about pursuing a resentencing hearing, contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney. We are equipped to help you understand the law and your available options to ensure you are treated appropriately throughout every step of the process. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule a free consultation at the The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Source:

http://thesouthern.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/us-high-court-ruling-could-affect-illinois-inmates/article_916f0940-677b-5bc2-bc04-d10f620625e4.html

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