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Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney for illegal search and seizureEven though nearly everyone carries a cell phone with them at all times, it has become more and more clear in recent years that this practice exposes a great deal of our personal information. For those who may potentially face criminal charges, police officers or other law enforcement officials may be able to access location data and other information that can be used as evidence. This was made clear following the riots that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. While investigating and prosecuting those who were involved in these incidents, the FBI has accessed multiple different types of personal data. This has raised questions about what types of information are available to law enforcement officials and whether the collection of this data violates people’s constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure.

Location and GPS Data and Search Warrants

Typically, if law enforcement officials wish to access an individual person’s data, such as the calls they have made or the text messages they have sent, they are required to obtain a search warrant. Even if police officers and federal officials cannot access a person’s phone, they may use a variety of other methods to collect data that can provide them with information about people’s location and communications. In some cases, they may request “tower dumps” from cell phone companies to track people’s locations by identifying everyone who connected to a certain cell tower at a certain date and time.

As the use of tower dumps has become more well-known, some courts have found that police must obtain warrants before accessing this type of cell-site location information (CSLI). However, officials may be able to use other methods to access a person’s data, including GPS location data and personal information gathered by other apps. 

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Connecticut criminal defense attorney for facial recognitionTechnology is always improving, and as computers get faster and more efficient, more and more people have welcomed these devices into their homes and used them in nearly every aspect of their lives. However, many people do not realize the full extent that these systems play both on the personal level and in society at large. One issue that has affected people in recent years is the increased use of facial recognition technology in criminal cases. Police officers and law enforcement officials regularly use these tools to identify suspects and make arrests, but the limitations of technology and the biases built into these systems may result in wrongful arrests or convictions.

Problems With Facial Recognition

The use of automated facial recognition tools has become widespread in the United States, and unfortunately, it is not always clear when law enforcement is allowed to use this technology. Regulations vary from state to state, and while some cities have banned the use of facial recognition by police officers, most states have not placed any limitations on when or how these tools can be used.

Police may use facial recognition in a variety of ways, such as by comparing photos of suspects with a state’s database of driver’s license photos or a city or state’s collection of mug shots of people who have previously been arrested. In some cases, law enforcement officials may even use tools sold to them by private contractors that search through photos that are available online, such as on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram.

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Hartford, CT criminal lawyer courthouse dogsMany people enjoy the companionship of pets, and dogs or other animals can provide a great deal of comfort to those who struggle with emotional issues. Because of this, therapy dogs are being used in a wide variety of situations, such as hospitals, schools, and, increasingly, courthouses. While some have advocated for the use of these animals to provide comfort to witnesses, others have raised concerns about how this practice could affect the fairness of criminal cases.

Courthouse Dogs and Sympathy for Witnesses

Some courts have begun the practice of using therapy dogs to assist witnesses. These dogs, which may be referred to as “courthouse dogs” or “facility dogs,” are professionally trained by an accredited organization to ensure that they can remain calm in a wide variety of locations and situations, including crowded public spaces, elevators and stairways, and the presence of children. Facility dogs are meant to provide quiet companionship to witnesses without disrupting courtroom proceedings. In Connecticut, courts have the discretion to permit dogs to provide comfort and support to testifying witnesses.

Advocates for the use of courthouse dogs believe that their use will help alleged victims and vulnerable witnesses have access to justice. These dogs may provide comfort to those who have allegedly faced traumatic experiences, such as sexual assault or domestic violence, helping them express themselves when testifying. Facility dogs may also provide benefits for children who have allegedly suffered abuse or neglect and people who are developmentally disabled.

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Connecticut criminal law attorney for defendant rightsNobody likes it when other people are not truthful with them. Most people value honesty, and they believe they can tell when someone is lying. However, spotting lies is often much more difficult than one would expect, and even so-called experts who study human behavior have a poor track record of determining when people are not telling the truth in real-world situations. While the inability to recognize lies can be troublesome in people’s daily lives, this issue becomes even more serious when a person is facing criminal charges. Law enforcement officials often build cases against suspects based on their perceptions of whether a person is telling the truth, and during a trial, a judge or jury may base their decisions on whether they find a defendant or a witness to be trustworthy. People’s biases play a significant role in these cases, and this can lead to unjust results.

Research Demonstrates the Difficulty of Detecting Lies

There are a variety of ways that “experts” believe they can recognize when a person is lying. Some believe that people’s “microexpressions,” such as an inadvertent raising of the eyebrows or a slight upturn of the corner of the mouth, betray a person’s true feelings when they are making untrue statements. Others look at a person’s body language and claim that actions such as shrugging the shoulders, shifting the legs, or looking away from a person while speaking are indications of lying.

Some researchers have stated that they have high success rates of detecting lying when performing studies. However, the experiments conducted in laboratories are very different from real-life situations, and outside the lab, experts are usually unable to replicate these results. The average person is even less likely to accurately detect lies; one study found that people were only able to detect lies 54% of the time, which is only slightly better than if they had made guesses based purely on chance. This is true even for people such as police officers or judges who are supposedly experienced in dealing with people who lie. Studies have found that these professionals are no better at detecting deception than anyone else.

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Hartford weapons charges defense lawyerIn recent years, the use of deadly force by police officers has become a major concern for people throughout the United States. Police shootings occur regularly, and they often result in the deaths of suspects, including people who were unarmed or those who potentially could have been subdued by other means. In some cases, police are authorized to use deadly force against those who are wielding knives or other weapons. To avoid becoming a victim in these types of situations, those who could be arrested on criminal charges related to knives or other weapons will want to understand when police officers are permitted to use deadly force.

Recent Appeals Court Decision Illustrates When Deadly Force May Be Used

A case that was recently heard in the 9th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals involved an incident in which police officers killed a man who was armed with a knife. The man committed “suicide by cop” in which he called 911 and falsely reported an assault by a man with a knife. When two officers arrived at the scene, he ran toward them while carrying a knife, and the officers opened fire. He was fatally wounded after being shot 10 times.

The man’s survivors pursued a civil rights lawsuit against the officers, but their case was dismissed by a district judge, who ruled that the officers’ use of deadly force was justified. The appeals court reviewed the case and looked at some of the key facts of the issue, including whether officers followed what is known as the “21-foot rule.” This is not an actual rule followed by police departments, but more of a guideline that states that a person carrying a knife or a similar deadly weapon may present a threat if they are within 21 feet of an officer, and this may justify the use of deadly force.

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