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Brave New World - Law Enforcement and Advancing Technology

In Livermore, police officers will soon be attired with video cameras and will be contemporaneously filming their stops and arrests. In San Jose, the police department uses a drone to search buildings. The FBI regularly uses helicopters with infrared technology to search for marijuana fields. Most police agencies have IT employees on the payroll that search suspects' phones and computer records. Some cities have developed sophisticated camera systems that allow the police to monitor all cars travelling within their boundaries.

The foregoing represents a small fraction of the advances used by government investigators. Our computerized “Brave new world” of science and technology could never have been imagined let alone foreseen by the drafters of the Constitution. Yet, each day Judges are called upon to decide the merits of the privacy rights of suspects who claim that their right to be free from unreasonable searches was infringed upon by the use or misuse by the police of this technology.

The Fourth Amendment essentially safeguards a person's right to be left alone; to be secure in their home and not harassed by officers on the street without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. These concepts that were set forth over 200 years ago are elastic; they adapt to the changing technology. Most importantly, criminal defense attorneys need to be vigilant about raising Fourth Amendment violations even when the science and technology seems certain.

If you have been arrested for a crime, contact the Law Offices of Karlstrom and Krebs.