Commonwealth v. AlmonorAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the motion judge's allowance of Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that police action causing an individual's cell phone to reveal its real-time location constitutes a search in the constitutional sense under article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, but, in this case, the warrantless search was supported by probable cause and was reasonable under the exigent circumstances exception to the search warrant requirement.
After the police identified Defendant as the suspect in a murder case, the police contacted Defendant's cellular service provider to request the real-time location of Defendant's cell phone. They did so without a warrant. The service provider "pinged" Defendant's cell phone, which caused the cell phone to transmit its real-time GPS coordinates to the service provider. The GPS coordinates were relayed to the police, and the police were able to use that information to locate Defendant. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence as the fruit of an unlawful search. The motion judge allowed the suppression motion. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the motion judge erred in concluding that the warrantless ping of Defendant's cell phone was not justified by exigent circumstances.