Criminal Defense Archives

When It Comes to Your Cell Phone, What Does Your Right to Privacy Include?

If you are one of the more than 90% of American adults who own a cell phone, consider for a moment what your device contains. Millions of lines of text? Hundreds of personal photographs? Your internet search history? Confidential or proprietary documents attached to your work emails? Even more in salvageable deleted files or the cloud? Finally, ask yourself, would you like to hand all of this information over to the government? The Fourth Amendment is the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. As such, a law enforcement officer cannot walk into your home or place of business and conduct a search on your computer, or look through your phone records, without a warrant. The U.S. Supreme Court has held, however, that a warrantless search may be reasonable if it falls within one of a few specific exceptions. One of those exceptions is when a warrantless search is conducted incident to a lawful arrest. The U.S. Supreme Court was recently called upon to consider the case of Mr. Riley, who was stopped by the police for a traffic violation. This traffic stop led to an arrest, which led to a search of Mr. Riley's person without a warrant. At the time, Mr. Riley was carrying his cell phone in his pocket. The police officer seized Mr. Riley's phone and, over the next few hours, the phone was searched. Based in part on information discovered in the phone, Mr. Riley was charged and convicted of a serious crime.

As the Pendulum Swings: The Bribery Backlash to the Honest Services Doctrine

T'was not so long ago that we saw an insurance company lobbyist in Massachusetts find himself convicted of Wire and Mail Fraud as a result of his company picking up the tab for golf and entertainment junkets to Puerto Rico by the Chairman of Massachusetts House Insurance Committee and others. The government theory was that the lobbyist had conspired to engage in "a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services." and had thus deprived the good citizens of the Commonwealth of their intangible right to the honest services of their elected officials. This is the so-called "Honest Services Doctrine." US v Sawyer, 85 F. 3d 713 (1st Cir.1996).

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