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Federal Criminal Issues to Be Considered in 2018


As 2018 begins, the United States Supreme Court has released its upcoming docket. Included in the list are significant criminal cases that will be of interest. Some issues that will be important are the search and seizure of cell phones, the expectation of privacy in a rental car in which the driver is not an authorized driver on the rental agreement.

Cell Phone Records. The court will answer whether the search and seizure of cell phone records without a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment. In the case ofCarpenter v. United States, the FBI was granted access by a Judge to an Mr. Carpenter’s cell phone records. Mr. Carpenter was allegedly involved in a series of armed robberies, and one of the men involved confessed and gave the FBI the cell number of Mr. Carpenter and other participants. The FBI requested access to Mr. Carpenter’s “transaction records” stored by his telecommunications provider without first obtaining a search warrant based on probable cause. Mr. Carpenter was found guilty using the evidence from his cell-phone records. After trial, he claimed that the acquisition of his cell phone records required a warrant based on probable cause.

Rental Car/Privacy. The court will consider whether a driver has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a rental car when he has the renter’s permission to drive the car but is not listed as an authorized driver on the rental agreement. In Byrd v. United States, Mr. Byrd was pulled over for a traffic violation. After discovering a warrant for Mr. Byrd’s arrest, police officers began to search Mr. Byrd’s rental vehicle where they found heroin. Mr. Byrd alleges he did not provide consent to search his vehicle. The trial court held that no consent was necessary because Mr. Byrd did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a rental car in which he was not a listed driver.

Automobile Exception to Fourth Amendment. The court will answer whether the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment permits a police officer without a warrant to enter private property in order to search a vehicle parked a few feet from the house. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable search and seizures. The automobile exception allows an officer to search a vehicle without a search warrant as long as he or she has probable cause to believe that evidence or contraband is located in the vehicle. In Collins v. Virginia, the police officer lifted the tarp off a motorcycle that was suspected to be stolen in Mr. Collins driveway to verify its identity. It was the stolen motorcycle, and the police ultimately arrested Mr. Collins. At trial, Mr. Carpenter claimed the police officer conducted an illegal warrantless search by lifting the tarp off his motorcycle. The trial court held the search was justified under the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment.

If you are charged with a federal crime, please contact Ingram Law, LLC, at (205) 335-2640. Ingram Law, LLC, and Joseph A. Ingram represent people in federal court throughout the Southeast and Alabama.


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