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Why geofence warrants are problematic

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Your phone has the ability to obtain and store a significant amount of data regarding your whereabouts. Police in Maryland and elsewhere may gain access to this data, which may result in your involvement in a criminal investigation. Ultimately, you may be subject to a police interview or other intrusions into your life despite the fact that you have done nothing wrong.

Geofence warrants explained

The act of obtaining data from Google and similar services is called receiving a geofence warrant. Essentially, authorities are granted access to identifying information of anyone who Google or other sources say was in the general area when a murder, arson or other crime occurs. Authorities would also have access to information about recent searches or other information that might implicate you in a crime without specific proof that you did anything wrong.

Issues with probable cause

A warrant is only supposed to be issued if authorities can prove that a search would obtain specific evidence of a crime. However, geofence warrants are often issued just by suggesting to a judge that Google might have information that is needed to solve a crime. Ultimately, you may be able to argue that such a broad request for information violates your right to privacy as part of your criminal defense strategy.

If you are charged with a crime, you have a variety of options to defend yourself against the government’s assertions. For example, you could ask for evidence to be suppressed because authorities violated your Fourth Amendment rights. If evidence is obtained illegally, it cannot be used in court, which could increase the chances of receiving a plea deal or being acquitted by a jury after a trial.