How Can Data Collected by Law Enforcement Affect Criminal Cases?

 Posted on February 23,2023 in Criminal Defense

East Hartford Criminal Defense LawyerData privacy is an issue that has become increasingly important in recent years. As people have become more aware of the types of information collected by companies such as cell phone providers, social media platforms, and government organizations, laws are beginning to be put in place to ensure that sensitive information can be protected. As more attention is being paid to how technology firms and other companies use people's data, the ways this type of information is accessed and used by law enforcement have also received greater scrutiny. However, many people are unaware of what types of data police officers or other law enforcement officials can access and how this information may be used in criminal cases.

Questions About the Use of Personal Data in Police Investigations

There are numerous ways that police officers may use data collected from multiple sources to investigate crimes. In some cases, searches involving data may be performed as police investigate a particular suspect or review information related to a specific event. However, they may often conduct much broader and more sweeping investigations, collecting and storing personal information and other data that could potentially be used to prosecute future crimes.

One area of concern involves "predictive policing," in which data collected from a variety of sources is used by algorithms and artificial intelligence programs to supposedly predict when and where crimes are more likely to occur or to identify people who may engage in criminal activity. Because these programs use existing data related to police records and offenses that have been prosecuted in the past, they are likely to increase inequities in the justice system. For example, one key source of data for these programs is previous arrest records. Because Black people and other minorities are more likely to be stopped and questioned by police, arrested, and prosecuted for criminal offenses, systems that use data about these arrests are more likely to identify Black suspects as potential criminals instead of white people.

At the same time, police departments are utilizing predictive policing and other programs to gather as much data as possible. When DNA is collected from criminal suspects, it is kept in databases that may be used to investigate and prosecute future crimes. Information gathered during interviews with suspects or witnesses is compiled into vast databases, which may include people's names, addresses, phone numbers, social media accounts, physical descriptions, vehicles they own or use, suspected gang affiliations, and numerous other forms of information. Data may also be gathered from other sources, such as records provided to police by cell phone or internet companies or images or videos from doorbell cameras, security cameras, and traffic cameras. Many people are unaware of the extent of the information about them that police may be able to access and how their personal data may be used against them in criminal cases.

Unfortunately, people often struggle to protect themselves against the improper use of their personal information. While the Fourth Amendment prevents law enforcement from engaging in unreasonable searches, there are loopholes that allow many data collection efforts to continue. The Supreme Court has ruled that the collection of personal information may be allowed if a person did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Thus, data such as cell phone records showing that a person was in a public place at a certain date and time may be accessible to law enforcement, and it could be used as evidence in a criminal case.

Contact Our Hartford Criminal Defense Lawyer

People who are investigated by police or who are charged with criminal offenses may struggle to understand their rights, and they may not realize what types of information could be used as evidence against them. To make sure these issues will be addressed correctly, it is crucial for defendants to secure representation from an attorney who can help protect their rights. At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, our Connecticut criminal defense attorney can help you take the correct steps to defend yourself against criminal charges. We can review the types of evidence against you and challenge the information that was collected through illegal methods. We will work with you to build a winning defense strategy that will allow you to resolve your case successfully. Contact us at 860-290-8690 to set up a free consultation today.



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