Police Need a Warrant to Track You by Your Cell Phone


Until last week, it was a practice by law enforcement officers in Georgia to locate fleeing suspects or establish someone’s location by contacting cell phone providers, who would willingly triangulate a suspect’s whereabouts using the information “pinged” back and forth to cell phone towers by that suspect’s phone. A decision by the United States Supreme Court last week in the case of Carpenter v. United States, however, limits the use of that practice.

Now, the government acquisition of cell-site records is clearly a search and must comply with the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable search and seizures without a warrant issued by a magistrate judge after he finds probable cause. In the case of Mr. Carpenter, the government did not have probable cause to search the cell-site records and did not obtain a warrant for the records.

If you have been arrested and feel that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated, contact an attorney.

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