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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney false confession

For decades, American citizens have expressed various concerns about the nation’s police force over things such as the disproportionate use of violence against people of color and allegations of officers shooting unarmed suspects. According to the latest information from the Washington Post, there are approximately 5,624 people who have been shot and killed by on-duty police officers since 2015, on average about 1,000 each year. Because of that, we are now seeing many police stations across the country implementing new de-escalation and diversity training for officers. However, another widespread and concerning issue that has not been addressed in the same manner is officers who coerce or solicit false confessions from suspects of a crime.

False Confessions Are Not Uncommon

According to The Innocence Project, 375 people have been exonerated by DNA evidence for crimes that they did not commit. Of those cases, 102 cases or 27 percent were wrongfully convicted because of false confessions. Other sources have estimated that nearly $450 million has been paid out by state governments to defendants in false confession exoneration cases. 

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East Hartford, CT criminal law attorney search warrant

In today’s society, cell phones are commonplace when just 20 years ago, they were considered a luxury item. Now, cell phones have a plethora of uses other than just being for making phone calls. Think about what you use your cell phone every day. Many people use their smartphones to navigate from place to place, access the Internet, save photos and contacts, set calendars and schedules, and communicate with friends and family. All of that information is stored on your phone and can be viewed by mostly anyone who has access to the phone -- even police. In recent years, cell phones have become more valuable as evidence for law enforcement officers investigating a crime. However, some police professionals have run into opposition when attempting to retrieve evidence from password-protected phones. 

New Jersey Supreme Court Rules in Favor

Recently, such an issue made its way to the New Jersey Supreme Court, where the court ruled that a search warrant can indeed require a defendant to reveal his or her passcode to unlock his or her phone for law enforcement officers to retrieve evidence. The court ruled 4-3 that no existing state or federal laws provided enough protections for a passcode. This decision came from a case involving a man who claimed it was unconstitutional to force him to provide his passcode to police during their investigation into the man’s alleged involvement with aiding another man charged with drug trafficking.

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney cell phone evidence

In today’s world, our cell phones have become a normal and natural part of our lives. Even just 20 years ago, most people did not own a mobile phone, and the ones who did own them had phones that were nowhere near as powerful as the ones we have today. Smartphones are convenient for many everyday tasks, but they also pose valid privacy concerns for users because of data collection from nearly every app on your device. In some cases, this data may even be used to arrest, charge, or even convict you of a crime in Connecticut.

How Is My Data Being Collected?

Many cell phone users’ personal data is being collected, stored, and sold off without their knowledge. You may wonder how this might happen -- the apps on your phone, in fact, are responsible for most of this data collection. Data trackers are hidden and embedded into many apps that are readily available on the App Store and Google Play. These trackers collect all kinds of information and personal data about you, sell it, and transmit it to various third parties, who are often advertisers. However, advertisers are not the only ones interested in personal data. Recently, it was discovered that location data was being sold to law enforcement to help detain undocumented immigrants. 

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney

The entire country has seen changes like never before due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly every aspect of life has been affected by this public health crisis -- even the criminal justice system. Across the country, court systems have been operating with the bare minimum staff in only a handful of open courthouses. However, even with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, some municipalities are planning to or have already begun to reopen. The state of Connecticut is one such municipality that has begun to reopen courthouses.

Barriers to Reopening

Reopening courthouses in the midst of a pandemic pose a challenge for the criminal justice system. COVID-19 is a virus that is mainly spread through respiratory droplets that are produced when you talk, sneeze, and cough. Being in close contact with people, which is closer than six feet apart from another person, increases the chances of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. In criminal matters, close contact with other people is often unavoidable. The accused are often subject to pre-trial detention in close quarters. Judges, lawyers, jury members, and other court staff, in addition to the accused, are subject to confined rooms with poor ventilation for most of the day, during which many people speak for extended periods of time.

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Hartford criminal defense lawyer for digital evidenceTechnology is a common and often unavoidable presence in today’s world. Think about your own life; how often do you use your cell phone? What do you use your cell phone for? If you have ever used apps like Google Maps or Apple Maps to get from place to place, your location has been recorded. Even if you delete phone calls or text message conversations from your phone, the records of these conversations still exist. When it comes to criminal cases, technology has become a commonly-used source of evidence.

Cell Phones and Types of Evidence

Almost everything you do on your cell phone is recorded and stored. Information about any calls you make, any text messages you send, and any apps you use can all be accessed on your cell phone, even if you have attempted to delete those records. There are many different types of cell phone data that can be used in criminal cases, including:

  • History from your internet browser
  • Email messages (when they were sent, who they were sent to, and their content)
  • Call records, such as who you called and when
  • Text messages, what they contained, and who they were sent to
  • GPS and cell tower information, which can be used to attempt to determine the location of the phone

Defendants Often Have Trouble Retrieving Evidence

The United States criminal justice system was founded on the belief that those accused of committing a crime have certain rights. For example, the prosecution has the burden of proof in criminal cases, and prosecutors are required by law to reveal all evidence that they have against the defendant. Though these protections exist, defendants and their attorneys are often still at a disadvantage.

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