State v. Thomas Earls

On February 27, 2012 the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey filed an amicus brief in partnership with the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey which argued that the New Jersey Supreme Court needed to decide whether a cell phone user has a constitutional right of privacy regarding where they may be. In the case of the defendant, Thomas W. Earls, the police requested and received his real-time cell phone location from his provider three times in one day. They were able to do this without a warrant, court order or any other type of authorization from the court. The ACLU-NJ and the ACDL-NJ believed that the NJ Supreme Court should require a warrant before the police can obtain an individual’s cell phone location information. Without a warrant requirement the police have the ability to use cell phone location information to conduct unrestricted surveillance on individuals, which would be an utter violation of their right to privacy. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that Article 1, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution protects an individual’s privacy interest in the location of his or her cell phone and the police must obtain a search warrant based on a showing of probable cause, or qualify for an exception to the warrant requirement, to obtain tracking information through the use of a cell phone.

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