Cellphone Tower Data Is Not Constitutionally Protected

Recently in 2016, a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held that there was no 4th Amendment protection for cellphone tower data because it was determined that there is no expectation of privacy for the information exchanged between a cellphone and a cellphone tower when an individual is accessing that particular tower(s). The original article discussing this opinion was published by The Wall Street Journal. The opinion is not the first of its kind, and in fact, various courts throughout the United States vary on whether cellphone tower data, specifically the location data that is being transmitted when placing a phone call, is protected by the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Apparently, the Court of Appeals in this recent opinion out of Ohio compared the issue of cellphone tower data to that of a letter mailed through traditional post. They stated that the cellphone tower data was similar to the information that is placed on the outside of the letter (such as the mailing or return addresses). This means that the information on the outside of the envelope is considered revealed and exposed to the public, which goes to show there is no expectation of privacy for such information. The court went on to explain that cellphone tower data is also being exposed to the public since the individual user is providing the information freely to his or her cellphone provider. They then explained that it would not consider the cellphone tower data as business records, which would in fact diminish the expectation of privacy even more.

In the end, the court followed a similar ideal and ruling from 1979 when the U.S. Supreme Court held that phone calls made from a landline were not protected by the 4th Amendment. In that particular situation, similarly as with cellphone tower data, the individual using the landline is providing that information openly and directly to a third party, which is the phone company. Under this reasoning, the individual using the phone is not expecting privacy within the location of the landline, just as the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled with cellphone tower data.

This is a very interesting and important issue that was being discussed by the 6th Circuit and The Wall Street Journal because as technology continues its advancement in sophistication more questions will be raised as to what requires constitutional protection. Logically, it would seem that a landline phone would not be subject to an expectation of privacy, just as an individual’s home residence, address or location is not necessarily protected. The reason it’s not protected is because the very location and address is generally open for public display. This may not be true for all residences, but you see the logical perspective. Now when turning to cellphone tower data, or simple cellphone use, the ability to be anywhere at anytime is a very real possibility since the cellphone can be carried on our person and in our pocket. One would think that we as individuals would expect more privacy with such a device because of the ability to keep the device close to their person and within their pocket; however, this ability does not or may not mean that constitutional privacy is found within a situation where it is being used.

The U.S. Constitution can be very particular in its interpretation, especially in regards to the 4th Amendment and privacy interests, yet when they are deemed appropriate by the Constitution they become fully implicated within the situation.  It will be interesting to see this case, and others like it, develop. Cellphone tower data is simply one of the few technological advancements that have had and will continue to have an impact on Constitutional law and our ability to maintain privacy within specific areas of our lives.

As always, never rely on this article or any information on this website or any other internet, electronic, or other website when attempting to or wanting to represent yourself in a court of law within Michigan or the United States without first seeking and obtaining advice from adequate counsel specializing within the area of law that is in question.

UPDATED: What Is An Obstructed License Plate?

The Michigan Court of Appeals, on September 9, 2014, issued an opinion in People v Dunbar explaining that individual trucks (or motor vehicles) that had factory installed trailer-ball hitches were not in violation of MCL 257.225(2) (i.e. in violation of an obstructed license plate). This means that when the vehicle’s registration is obstructed (or cannot be viewed by the officer) because of the trailer-ball hitch, the officer cannot write an individual a traffic citation for obstructed license plate or registration. HOWEVER, on March 29, 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, reversed the Court of Appeals decision in People v Dunbar and explained that the license plate and the area around the plate much be configured in a way that does not wholly or partially cover the license plate.

If found responsible for an obstructed license plate (per MCL 257.225(2)), the individual will face a non-abstractable civil infraction, which attaches a fine and zero points on the driving record. Therefore, the outcome of an obstructed license plate or registration is not very severe; however, one must always remember that traffic violations can and will lead to criminal charges. The traffic infraction or violation provides officer’s a reason to stop a particular vehicle.

Moreover, we must remember that if there is no violation (or probable cause of criminal activity) an individual officer is not allowed to pull a vehicle over. However, when returning to the issue in People v Dunbar, MSC’s opinion allows for a trailer-ball hitch to be considered obstructing a license plate, and thus the officer (or an officer for that matter) can make a valid traffic stop because it is a sufficient civil infraction or violation. Furthermore, as in Dunbar’s case, since the traffic stop was valid, the Officer was able to then continue with his or her investigation upon the smell of burn marijuana. The main issue here and legal question addressed by the court is based upon, as noted above, the fact of whether the initial traffic stop was valid. If the traffic stop was not valid then there would be an argument that the remaining facts and evidence discovered after the stop could be suppressed or withheld from prosecutorial use.

Remember, traffic violations can bring about criminal charges. This is true because the traffic violation, as explained above, allows the officer to stop you, collect more facts about what is occurring in the vehicle, and perhaps arrest or cite you for something more than the simple violation he originally pulled you over for.

It is always important and imperative to understand and know the law. It can assist you during times where you are confronted with police officers and law enforcement personnel, such as for an obstructed license plate or other civil infraction or criminal misdemeanor or felony. Whenever you are facing traffic or criminal charges, contact counsel, such as Josh Jones, to assist and protect your rights.

DO NOT RELY ON THESE LEGAL OPINIONS AND OBSERVATIONS WHEN REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN COURT. THESE ARTICLES ARE NOT MEANT TO COMPENSATE OR EFFECUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION. YOU SHOULD AND MUST CONTACT AN ATTORNEY AND DISCUSS WITH HIM OR HER THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANY AND ALL IDEAS, STATEMENTS, OPINIONS, EXPRESSIONS OR OTHERWISE STATED ON THIS SITE. 

Careless Driving In Michigan Analyzed

Here in the State of Michigan, like many other states, there is a traffic infraction known as careless driving. If an individual is found responsible for careless driving, her or she will face a civil infraction, attaching other possible risks and repercussions. Because careless driving is a civil infraction this means that this type of infraction is not criminal, and thus your criminal record will not be tarnished if found responsible for careless driving. Therefore, the next question becomes: what constitutes careless driving here in Michigan?

Careless driving is controlled and defined by statute. MCL § 257.626b delineates and explains that “[a] person who operates a vehicle upon a highway or a frozen public lake, stream, or pond or other place open to the general public including an area designated for the parking of vehicles in a careless or negligent manner likely to endanger any person or property, but without wantonness or recklessness” is responsible for careless driving. I would like to point out at this time that the last phrase “wantonness or recklessness”  is the fine line that differentiates careless driving between reckless driving. It is important to make this distinction due to the fact that an individual convicted of reckless driving will have a misdemeanor placed on his or her criminal record along with repercussions to his or her driving record. As noted earlier, the careless driving infraction is a civil infraction, and again not a criminal misdemeanor or charge.

Moving back to the issue of careless driving, if an individual is found responsible for the civil infraction her or she will be ordered to pay a civil fine. The amount of the civil fine will be dependent on the District Court the individual is in at the time that they admit responsibility. Moreover, the fine can also be determinate on the type of resolution that the individual came too with the prosecutor, if the situation and circumstances call for such a situation and resolution. The other concern individuals should be aware of is the accumulation of points on an individual’s driving record if they admit responsibility to the infraction of careless driving. The total amount of points that can be attributed to an individual who has admitted responsibility to careless driving is three (3) points, which means that those points will be placed on the individual’s driving record. Again, remember that this is not a criminal charge, but admission does bring about an impact to the driving record. Once the driving record is impacted, an individual’s insurance coverage and premiums will also likely be influenced.

At the end of the day, even when you are issued a civil infraction, such as careless driving, it is imperative to know the possible repercussions and risks associated with admitting responsible for such an offense or infraction. This is why it is always advisable to contact and even hire counsel. Civil infractions can and do add up, which can then impact your ability to drive.

DO NOT RELY ON THESE LEGAL OPINIONS AND OBSERVATIONS WHEN REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN COURT. THESE ARTICLES ARE NOT MEANT TO COMPENSATE OR EFFECUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION. YOU SHOULD AND MUST CONTACT AN ATTORNEY AND DISCUSS WITH HIM OR HER THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANY AND ALL IDEAS, STATEMENTS, OPINIONS, EXPRESSIONS OR OTHERWISE STATED ON THIS SITE. HOPE TO SPEAK WITH YOU SOON.

A warrant v warrantless search can be the difference between a constitutional violation and a legal search (and later seizure) by a police officer. Warrant v warrantless searches can occur in many situations and circumstances. To begin, a warrant to search is constitutionally required in situations, unless there is a constitutionally accepted exception that allows for a warrantless search.

The warrant to search must enumerate specific areas, locations, property and otherwise those things, items, places or persons that are to be searched. Moreover, in order for the warrant to be proper and constitutional there must be a factual basis establishing a reasonable belief or ability to find criminal activity within the area or location enumerated in the search warrant. An officer will submit what is called an affidavit of facts to a magistrate or judge for review and approval. This statement holds true, so long as there is not an exception to the general rule that requires a police officer to first obtain a warrant prior to performing a search on an individual here in the United States.

The exceptions to the warrant requirement allows for an officer to perform a warrantless search, and thus without first submitting an affidavit to a neutral and detached magistrate. Exceptions to the warrant requirement include situations involving situations where the officer has seen criminal activity in plain sight (or smell), in exigent circumstances, when an individual consents, when the situation lacks a reasonable expectation of privacy, or in other various situations. Essentially, unless a warrant is presented in a situation, an individual should always deny consent to be search or have his or her property, home, vehicle or otherwise searched.

No matter the situation an individual always has the right to deny consent to search. In fact, it’s a constitutional right, and it can make the difference in warrant v warrantless searches. In the end, if you are approached by a police officer, you have the absolute right to remain silent, not answer  any of his or her questions, deny a consent of your person and property, and to ask if you are allowed to walk away or free to leave. If he denies you the ability to leave or walk away, then you may be in a situation known as a custodial arrest or detainment, and at this situation you want to invoke your rights to silence and an attorney immediately, emphatically, and vocally to the officer. Know the law, maintain your rights, and lawyer-up.

PLEASE DO NOT RELY ON THESE LEGAL OPINIONS AND OBSERVATIONS WHEN REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN COURT. THESE ARTICLES ARE NOT MEANT TO COMPENSATE OR EFFECUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION. YOU SHOULD AND MUST CONTACT AN ATTORNEY AND DISCUSS WITH HIM OR HER THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANY AND ALL IDEAS, STATEMENTS, OPINIONS, EXPRESSIONS OR OTHERWISE STATED ON THIS SITE. WE HOPE TO SPEAK WITH YOU SOON. 

What To Do With An Outstanding Warrant In Michigan

In Michigan, and other states, when an individual has an outstanding warrant for a misdemeanor or felony, he or she will need to satisfy or turn themselves in on the outstanding warrant. Outstanding warrants can involve both Michigan misdemeanors and felonies, depending upon the circumstances and charges filed or issued by the local or county prosecutor. It should be known that if a felony warrant is being issued, it will not be by a local or municipal prosecutor, but rather a State or County prosecutor will be issuing felony warrants. City, local or municipal prosecutors will generally sign off on misdemeanor warrants; however, state prosecutors can also issue misdemeanor warrants. Misdemeanors are handled and within the power of both municipal and state prosecutors, unlike felony warrants.

Whenever an individual has an outstanding warrant for their arrest, albeit it be a misdemeanor or a felony, the individual should always first consult with a criminal attorney. The reason for this is due to the sensitivity of handling the outstanding warrant. Here in Michigan, if the criminal charges involve an open and outstanding warrant, the individual will generally be required to turn him- or herself into the court in order to close the open and outstanding warrant. This generally means the individual will have to do what is called a “walk-in” arraignment, which is where the individual will be arraigned on the outstanding warrant. During the arraignment the main purposes of the hearing will consist setting bond, reading of the charges, and setting the matter for the next appropriate hearing. Depending on whether the charges are for felonies or misdemeanors, the court in which you will be arraigned on an outstanding warrant will generally be the district court.

Outstanding warrants can consist of new charges, probation violations, or other criminal issues and matters. Because of the various situations and circumstances of your outstanding warrant, you should always consider and contact a criminal attorney. He or she will be able to advise you specifically to the nature of your criminal matter and inform you of what you need to specifically do in order to close the outstanding warrant. The information above applies generally to outstanding warrants; however, each case and situation is different, so please do not rely on this information or any information on any website if attempting, wanting, or trying to represent yourself in a court of law. Hire proper and competent counsel.

Filing License Restoration, Taking The Step

After taking the first and initial step in re-establishing your driving privilege, filing license restoration is the next step. Filing license restoration matters should always be handled by an experience license restoration attorney because of the special nature with the documentation and information that you will be sending to the Michigan drivers license appeal board. If the documentation and hearing is not executed accordingly and the individual fails to establish his or her burden in showing that they are privileged to having driving privileges again the individual will be required to wait an minimum of one-year before reapplying for his or her license.

It should be intuitive then that the second step of filing license restoration is highly important. This endeavor will consist of obtaining certain individuals to write letters of support on your behalf that will be submitted with your appeal. Depending on the reason for your suspension or revoked license, these individuals will need to attest to certain facts regarding your previous and current behavior. In many situations, individual lose their license because of substance abuse or criminal charges, and thus the letters of support in those situations will explain how the individual was prior to and after sobriety. Those attestations will help show to the appeal board that you will continue with your sobriety.

Furthermore, a substance abuse assessment, with a drug panel screening, will also be needed and submitted with the application to reinstate an individual’s drivers license. Again, it is highly important to obtain assistance when preparing and obtaining these documents for submission because the assessments are just as, if not more, important than the letters of support.

In the end, all of the information discussed above, and more that you will obtain from your attorney, will be and is important when submission your appeal for license reinstatement. Filing license restoration should begin with a full consultation from an experienced attorney, which will eventually lead to collecting the appropriate and correct documentation that will be submitted to the appeal division.

DO NOT RELY ON THESE LEGAL OPINIONS AND OBSERVATIONS WHEN REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN COURT. THESE ARTICLES ARE NOT MEANT TO COMPENSATE OR EFFECUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION. YOU SHOULD AND MUST CONTACT AN ATTORNEY AND DISCUSS WITH HIM OR HER THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANY AND ALL IDEAS, STATEMENTS, OPINIONS, EXPRESSIONS OR OTHERWISE STATED ON THIS SITE. HOPE TO SPEAK WITH YOU SOON.

The First Step For Drivers License Restoration

Do you have the legal ability to currently drive here in the State of Michigan? Have you lost the right to have a drivers license? Is your drivers license suspended, revoked or denied? Do you currently hold an invalid license? Have you heard of Drivers License Restoration?

If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, you should consider and/or research looking into drivers license restoration. Depending upon why your license has been suspended, revoked, or denied there will be a specific course of action and/or plan that you will want to consider before actually attempting to re-obtain your drivers license. When determining how to get your license back, you should first begin by looking at your master driving record. The reason you should look at your driving record first is due to the fact that it will inform you of whether you are actually approved to apply for a hearing before the State Drivers License Appeal Board here in Michigan.

There are times that an individual who is looking to restore his or her driving privileges will find out that they are not eligible at such a time, and thus drivers license restoration . The reasoning for this is due to the fact that the individual’s record reveals that they are still under some sort of suspension or hold on their license because of traffic infractions, criminal convictions, or other driving license consequences. The suspension or hold results in license sanctions, which then in turn can prolong the individual’s eligibly for applying to reinstate his or her license. Drunk driving is a very prevalent reason for initially losing an individual’s drivers due to suspension or revocation; however, that is not the only reason or way to lose a driver’s license.

As stated before, numerous actions can lead to an individual losing his or her drivers license. Because of the various ways and possibilities, an individual should always seek the assistance and guidance of an attorney who handles drivers license restoration whenever they find themselves with an invalid, suspended or revoked license. Seeking their advice will allow the individual to understand the status of their license, which then allows for them to figure out the proper course of action in order to re-establish driving privileges.

DO NOT RELY ON THESE LEGAL OPINIONS AND OBSERVATIONS WHEN REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN COURT. THESE ARTICLES ARE NOT MEANT TO COMPENSATE OR EFFECTUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION. YOU SHOULD AND MUST CONTACT AN ATTORNEY AND DISCUSS WITH HIM OR HER THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANY AND ALL IDEAS, STATEMENTS, OPINIONS, EXPRESSIONS OR OTHERWISE STATED ON THIS SITE. HOPE TO SPEAK WITH YOU SOON.

Electronic Insurance Cards Allowed

With the advent of technology Michigan law has been modified to correlate itself with such advancement. Prior to January 2015, the State of Michigan did not recognize electronic insurance cards as sufficient proof of proper insurance, which is required for automobiles in the State. Electronic insurance cards specifically refer to those found on an individuals phone or other electronic device representing a sufficient proof of insurance. The new law can be found under MCL 257.328.

Specifically speaking, providing an electronic form that is issued by the insurance company certifying the showing of insurance is a valid form of an electronic insurance card. Having an electronic insurance card on your individual person is prima facie proof of proper insurance. However, it should be noted that an officer can require that the individual subsequently submit the electronic version of the insurance to the proper or appropriate police department.

This new law allows for the expansion and protection of individuals that have insurance, but do not hold or have a paper copy of their insurance. Electronic insurance cards provide individuals a secondary option of showing that they do in fact have proper insurance, which would allow the individual to have options of bypassing a misdemeanor or other civil infraction. Remember, even civil infractions can impact an individual’s driving record.

Whenever you are or could be facing a criminal or traffic offense contact a local counsel. He or she always provide guidance regardless of the situation or severity of the circumstances. It is what they are here for. Josh Jones is here 7-days a week, and handles criminal and traffic offenses throughout Michigan.

PLEASE DO NOT RELY ON THESE LEGAL OPINIONS AND OBSERVATIONS WHEN REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN COURT. THESE ARTICLES ARE NOT MEANT TO COMPENSATE OR EFFECTUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION. YOU SHOULD AND MUST CONTACT AN ATTORNEY AND DISCUSS WITH HIM OR HER THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANY AND ALL IDEAS, STATEMENTS, OPINIONS, EXPRESSIONS OR OTHERWISE STATED ON THIS SITE. HOPE TO SPEAK WITH YOU SOON. 

Traffic Infraction Consequences

Traffic infractions consequences are important because with the right amount of consequences can lead an individual to losing his or her drivers license. The State of Michigan has certain ways that individuals can lose their license because of traffic infraction consequences. In numerous situations, individuals who accumulate or obtain too many points on his or her driving record will have his or her license suspended until certain criteria are met.

Moreover, prior to losing drivers license, an individual will or could face responsibility fees for the accumulation of too many points, which will also occur upon the suspension of a license. This is why it becomes to important to obtain an attorney prior to admitting responsibility for or paying a traffic ticket, which helps avoid potential traffic infraction consequences. An individual should never simply pay a traffic ticket, even when it’s their first traffic ticket or infraction. The reasoning behind this logic is because another traffic infraction consequence involves the increase in insurance premiums when the traffic infraction is placed on an individual’s driving record.

Simple traffic infractions can be pesky and annoying and involve the accumulation of points on the driving record. But did you know there are other traffic tickets that are classified as criminal, attaching serious traffic infraction consequences? Some of these infractions include reckless driving, drunk driving, driving without a drivers license or insurance, and other various traffic infractions, violations and the like. Traffic infraction consequences can bring about immediate suspension upon conviction of the above aforementioned crimes or infractions. Responsibility fees, points, and possible criminal probation can also ensue from a conviction of such a crime. Moreover, the individual’s criminal record will be impacted and a conviction placed on the record will also occur. Criminal traffic infractions are serious, and they should always be handled by a traffic attorney.

In the end, whether the traffic infraction consequences are severe or simply involve the accumulation of points, and individual should never shy away from obtaining assistance on his or her matter. The end result will provide a softening of any impact that may or may not occur on the individual facing the infraction. Josh Jones is here 7-days a week by phone, email or text. Contact him today with your traffic matters.

DO NOT RELY ON THESE LEGAL OPINIONS AND OBSERVATIONS WHEN REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN COURT. THESE ARTICLES ARE NOT MEANT TO COMPENSATE OR EFFECTUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION. YOU SHOULD AND MUST CONTACT AN ATTORNEY AND DISCUSS WITH HIM OR HER THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANY AND ALL IDEAS, STATEMENTS, OPINIONS, EXPRESSIONS OR OTHERWISE STATED ON THIS SITE. HOPE TO SPEAK WITH YOU SOON.

Grand Rapids Marijuana Law Upheld

In the final months of 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court provided much hope for the marijuana community by failing to hear and take up the case involving Grand Rapids’ marijuana law, decriminalizing marijuana within the city.  It must be said that the Michigan Supreme Court did not specifically hear oral arguments or render an opinion, but rather the Court decided not to hear arguments on the case nor did it accept the case on appeal from the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Earlier in 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court found for the City, and it determined that the Grand Rapids’ marijuana law, which was amended through the City charter, was valid. The local ordinance does not replace or nullify any existing, specifically when faced against the state law that criminalizes marijuana under Michigan Public Health Code. Now, the City of Grand Rapids and its interrelated City Police Department issue civil infractions for violations of its marijuana ordinance. The civil infraction criminalizes an act involving marijuana, but it does not provide criminal punishment nor a criminal record. Instead, as stated above, a civil infraction is issued under Grand Rapids’ Marijuana law.

An individual must remember, the Grand Rapids Marijuana Law only applies within the city limits. If found in violation of the local law, an individual will face a $25.00 fine for the first violation, $50.00 for a second violation, and $100.00 for a third or subsequent violation. IN order to fall under this local law, the individual must be at least 18 years or older. There are still very many issues that can appear and evolve within Grand Rapids due to this new local ordinance; however, the Grand Rapids’ Marijuana Law does provide for certain safeties that were not in place beforehand.

It is essential to remember that individuals are not fully protected by the Grand Rapids’ marijuana law, even when those individuals are found to be possessing within the city limits. There are numerous reasons for this and they should be examined separately pursuant to each individual case at hand. With that said, whenever you are facing or could face charges for marijuana acts, please contact a criminal defense attorney immediately in order to seek advice and guidance on your individual case. Josh Jones is here for you 7-days a week and is only a phone call away.

DO NOT RELY ON THESE LEGAL OPINIONS AND OBSERVATIONS WHEN REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN COURT. THESE ARTICLES ARE NOT MEANT TO COMPENSATE OR EFFECUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION. YOU SHOULD AND MUST CONTACT AN ATTORNEY AND DISCUSS WITH HIM OR HER THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANY AND ALL IDEAS, STATEMENTS, OPINIONS, EXPRESSIONS OR OTHERWISE STATED ON THIS SITE. HOPE TO SPEAK WITH YOU SOON.