How Reverse Searches Can Be Used by Police to Obtain Evidence

 Posted on April 17,2024 in Criminal Defense

Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyerIn recent years, people have become more aware of how much digital information about them is being tracked. Due to the constant use of smartphones, data about the locations people visit is tracked and saved. Other activities are tracked as well, such as the online searches people make, the apps they use, and the videos they watch on YouTube or other platforms. In criminal cases, police are using very broad search warrants to access this information, but the legality of these practices has been called into question.

Because of the role that data plays in so many criminal cases, it is important to understand how to defend against unlawful searches or other violations of a defendant’s rights. An experienced attorney can help determine the best ways to address these issues and defend against a conviction.

Reverse Searches, Geofencing, and Other Law Enforcement Practices

Traditionally, police officers have used search warrants to target individual people who are suspected of crimes. For instance, they may request search warrants that will allow them to tap a person’s phone, view their bank records, or search their home. However, in recent years, more and more cases have involved “reverse searches” that do not target a single person, but instead seek to access large amounts of data about multiple people in hopes of identifying potential suspects.

With reverse searches, police will request information from technology companies that include all people who engaged in certain activities within a specified time period. These may include reverse keyword searches that identify everyone who searched for particular terms on Google or everyone who viewed certain videos on YouTube. They may also include “geofence” searches that include everyone who was in a certain area within a specified window of time.

Civil liberties advocates have questioned the legality of reverse searches. By gathering vast amounts of data about many different people, these searches will not only target criminal suspects, but a large number of people who had nothing to do with the alleged offenses. This is not only a violation of privacy, but it may lead to people being wrongfully investigated and prosecuted because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time or happened to search for information that has been deemed suspicious.

Google and other companies may be taking steps to limit the types of information that may be made available to law enforcement, including by storing location information on people’s devices rather than in a central location. However, the huge amounts of data that continue to be collected and stored may potentially be accessed by law enforcement and used as evidence in criminal cases. Until laws are passed or decisions are made in the courts regarding the validity of reverse searches, police are likely to continue to use these tactics to gather information and prosecute suspects.

Contact Our East Hartford, Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyer

At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we understand the role that digital data and police searches can play in criminal cases, and we are dedicated to protecting our clients’ rights. We can challenge evidence that was obtained illegally and develop strategies to defend against convictions. To learn more about how we can help address these issues contact our Hartford criminal defense lawyer at 860-290-8690 and schedule a free consultation.

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