This case stems from a prosecution on counts of Hobbs Act violations, counts of using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during the commission of a crime, and a count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The defendant was charged with these offenses bases on robberies of Indiana and Michigan gas stations and a liquor store.
Upon the Defendant becoming a suspect and learning which phone company he used, one of the detectives asked the provider to “ping” the phone to learn the phone’s location. While the detective didn’t have a warrant, he asked the provider to ping the phone based on an exigency.
The service provider agreed and began pinging the phone every 15 minutes. Based on this real time CSLI information, law enforcement was able to locate and arrest the defendant.
In response to a Motion to Suppress evidence, the Government did not dispute the argument that Carpenter v. United States applies to real time or “ping” data, as well as historical data. In fact, the government conceded that in light of Carpenter v. United States, a search warrant should have been acquired before accessing the “ping” information.
They took the position, however, based on the Seventh Circuit case of United States v. Curtis, 901 F.3d 846 (7th Cir. 2018) that the evidence was admissible under the “good-faith” exception to the warrant requirement since the detective’s “ping request” was made pursuant to the Stored Communications Act.
In denying the Motion to Suppress, the District Court decided that there were exigent circumstances that necessitated the need to find the defendant to stop another armed robbery, aside from the issue of arresting him. These circumstances meant that the officer was acting in good faith.
The case is United States v. Hammond, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182866, 2018 WL 5292223 (N.D. Indiana) October 24, 2018