By Mary Agramonte
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. Knowing these two things, a good rule of thumb is to not say anything and to ask for a lawyer.
Even when you don’t talk, your own technology speaks volumes. Your Fitbit knows when you are awake and when you are asleep. Your cell phone sends data of your location any time you log in or send a message. Your Amazon Echo sits and waits to be called Alexa and then listens for a command, which is then recorded and stored along with the time and date. Your Facebook shows where you were when you last posted. Your silence is one thing, but your electronics can tell their own story.
Believe it or not: a murder case in Connecticut was just solved based on the victim’s Fitbit. A husband called 911 and told police a masked intruder had shot his wife. He gave a timeline of the incident of when she got home to when the intruder appeared and killed her. The police got a search warrant for the data on his wife’s Fitbit. The Fitbit showed she was awake and walking at a time the husband stated she had already been killed. It poked holes in his defense and after 18 months while the case was being investigated, the State has charged him with murder.
The Amazon Echo (Alexa) has also made its way into criminal cases. A man in Arkansas allegedly killed his friend after a night of drinking and watching football. Investigators sought to obtain the recordings from Alexa, and served a warrant to Amazon noting there was “reason to believe Amazon.com is in possession of records related to a homicide investigation being conducted by the Bentonville Police Department.” Investigators, not sure what they would find, wondered if the suspect possibly had asked Alexa something like how to clean up a crime scene. Amazon refused, but the defense lawyer filed a motion consenting to the data pull.
We know technology is here in part to make our lives easier. It’s also making it easier for police to solve crimes and see through suspects’ false statements. When your alibi is you couldn’t have committed the crime because you were somewhere else sleeping, the police may later learn from your Fitbit that you weren’t asleep at all.
Technology’s impact in the courtroom will continue to increase. As we become more dependent on technology, law enforcement will also turn to technology in solving crimes. If you have been arrested for a crime in the State of Georgia, hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer that is familiar with the challenges to privacy protections and search warrants as they relate to technology. Call us today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.
Sources: “Cops use murdered woman’s Fitbit to charge her husband” http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/25/us/fitbit-womans-death-investigation-trnd/index.html
“Suspect OKs Amazon to hand over Echo recordings in murder case” http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/07/tech/amazon-echo-alexa-bentonville-arkansas-murder-case/index.html