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New Jersey Supreme Court rules warrants needed for phone tracking

John Ribeiro | July 19, 2013
Cellphone users have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their cellphone location information, and police must obtain a search warrant before accessing that information, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled Thursday.

During a six-month period last year, in 85 percent of 600 cases for which cellphone information was sought, warrants were obtained, according to information provided by the state to the court. Local or municipal police departments are said to have handled about sixty cases in which no warrants were sought. The court, however, raised the possibility that the data may have overstated the number of cases the state specifically sought warrants.

The Earls case has been referred to the appellate court to  determine whether the emergency aid doctrine applies. The court observed that the emergency aid doctrine allows police to enter a dwelling without a warrant "for the purpose of protecting or preserving life, or preventing serious injury."


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