Indiana Court of Appeals finds exigent circumstances in review of real-time CSLI Fourth Amendment challenge.

In this case, the police were on the lookout for a suspect who purportedly put a lady in the hospital with serious injuries. Police also learned that there was another woman who was purportedly beaten by the same person.

The police, looking for the suspect, finding physical evidence of a kidnapping and blood at a home, prepared a search warrant affidavit for real-time data on the location of the suspect’s cellular phone.

The detectives faxed the affidavit and related documents to Sprint, asking for a “emergency or exigent ping” to fix on the current location of his Sprint complied with the request. Later, officers filed the search warrant affidavit with the trial court. The court then determined there was probable cause to believe that real-time tracking of the defendant’s phone would obtain information.

The Indiana Appellate Court started its analysis by noting that there is no binding precedent regarding real-time cell site location information. The Court assumed that real time location information has the same protections as historical cell-site location information. The Court then turned to the exigent circumstances exception, citing Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452, 455, 131 S. Ct. 1849, 1853-54, 179 L. Ed. 2d 865 (2011).

Looking at the facts of this case, involving a crime of violence, and the contents of the search warrant affidavit, the Court decided that “police had ample reason to believe” that the defendant had committed violent felonies and presented an ongoing threat to the lives and safety of persons involved in the investigation.

The case is Govan v. State, 116 N.E.3d 1165, 2019 Ind. App. LEXIS 35, 2019 WL 322031 (Ind. Ct. App.) January 25, 2019.

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