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California Bill Demands Police Warrants for Personal Data

Posted on Thursday, February 12th, 2015    

A new bill sponsored by Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would require police to obtain warrants before gathering electronic personal data, according to recent reports. The bill would require officers to obtain a warrant signed by a judge before accessing text messages, emails, GPS data or any electronic communication. However, the bill does make an exception for emergency situations in which someone might try to destroy evidence or when someone’s life may be in danger.

The Fourth Amendment: How Much Privacy Do We Have?

This is not the first time that Leno has sponsored a bill regarding personal privacy. In 2012, he introduced legislation that would have required warrants before allowing government searches of location data. Governor Brown vetoed the bill, as well as one that would have required law enforcement to obtain a warrant before accessing emails from providers. In both cases, the governor, in agreement with the California District Attorneys Association, claimed that federal law already required officers to obtain warrants, so there was no need for a state law.

However, Leno believes that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have made the climate more favorable for a bill that updates privacy laws in the electronic age. He also claims that the bill has bipartisan support. The American Civil Liberties Union of California has voiced support for the legislation.

Currently, the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution afford the right to individuals to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. However, the implementation of legal searches and the protection of this right is often debated. In many cases, the police conduct searches and seize evidence that may not be legal. Unfortunately, many people do not know enough about their legal rights to determine whether the search was properly conducted, and may lose the opportunity to contest the charges against them without the help of a criminal defense attorney. A good attorney may be able to challenge the results of the search and have the evidence suppressed in certain cases.

If you have been the subject of charges based on a search that uncovered evidence that will be used against you, it is very important to discuss your case with a lawyer. The attorneys at the Amerio Law Firm in Sacramento are ready to help you defend yourself against unlawful search and seizure or other misconduct on the part of police officers. Contact them today to discuss your case.

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