Greg Smith and Associates, Criminal Defense Attorneys

Salt Lake City (Murray)
Free 15 Min. Consultation  :  Nights & Weekends  :  Easy Payments

801-651-1512  -  24/7

Free 15 Min. Consultation 24/7

801-651-1512

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Office Location

Salt Lake City Office
111 E. 5600 S. #105
Murray, UT 84107

Telephone: 801-651-1512
Fax: 801-255-2134
Salt Lake City Law Office Map



Cellphone location evidence questioned in more criminal cases


Location data obtained from cell towers is coming up in more criminal cases, but it is often misunderstood.

Almost twelve years ago, a Portland woman was accused of a murder. She said she did not do it and spent two years in custody waiting for her day in court. Right before the trial, prosecutors approached her with cell-tower data they claimed placed her near the scene. She still professed innocence, but reluctantly took a plea to a lesser manslaughter charge. The judge sentenced her to serve 15 years.

New lawyers and phone experts reviewed the evidence and found flaws in the prosecution's evidence. One tower with a 360-degree antenna and a 300-mile range could not "pinpoint" a cellphones location as had been claimed.

Tower data is able to place a cellphone in a broad area, but cannot pinpoint the phone's location. The only way to get an exact location is through three-tower "triangulation." However, this evidence is not stored and thus cannot provide detailed location information.

Last April, in an unusual move a U.S. District Court Judge tossed out the woman's guilty plea holding that expert testimony on "the reliability of cell-tower evidence to pinpoint a caller's location, likely would have changed the outcome of the trial." The prosecutor will not retry her. She served 12 years following the wrongful conviction, because the initial attorneys did not understand the cell-tower evidence.

Expansion of use and limitations of cell-tower data

The Economist reported that last year AT&T alone received 37,839 court orders, subpoenas and search warrants looking for tower location data. This year, the number has likely already been surpassed, because 30,886 requests had been received by June, according to the company.

Prosecutors increasingly use the evidence to place a suspect at the location of a robbery or assault. The forensics chief for the public defender's office in Los Angeles County said cell-tower information comes up in every major case describing it "like fingerprints, it's that common."

Forensic experts find prosecutors do not understand how the technology works. A prosecutor might claim a phone connected to the nearest cell tower, however depending on the conditions two calls from the same location could be routed through different towers. Tower ranges overlap and computerized switching centers route calls based on many factors including foliage, nearby cars, weather, time of day and the function of the phone itself. The algorithm that wireless carriers use for routing calls is a trade secret thus the companies do not always answer questions about how networks operate.

The evidence from towers may have a place when the claim is that an individual moved between broad areas. For example, if the claim is that the individual drove from Salt Lake City to Chicago.

When charged with a crime, immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. It is important to seek someone who specializes in criminal law and is up-to-date on technology and how to challenge faulty evidence.

Clients with disabilities or impairments

Access to our office is available to clients and their family members at all times. Special equipment and communication devices are available upon request for our clients with visual, hearing, speech and physical impairment. In addition, arrangements can be made for verbal or sign language interpreters if needed to communicate between our attorneys and the client and family. Please notify our law office if any additional accommodations related to your disability or impairment are necessary to make your consultation more comfortable.

I understand that I am contacting a corporation, not an individual, and that if I do business with the law firm, it will be with that corporation, not any individual(s). I understand that Greg Smith and Associates is not the legal name of the law firm, rather, it is "Affordable Legal Advocates, PC." I also understand that whatever may relate to, or arise out of, any communication with the law firm, which results in any type of legal action, such must be brought in the Third District Court of Utah, West Jordan Department, and that this is mandatory not permissive.

We Can Help You Now

Call 801-651-1512   Call Now 24/7 Free Consultation: 24/7, nights & weekends
Typically No Retainer - Easy Payments!*

Use our secure private form

I have read the disclaimer.

Feedback From Satisfied Clients

"The domestic violence and DUI crimes that I was charged with would have ruined my career. Thank you for saving me! You are worth every penny I paid you."

More Testimonials >

Avvo Clients' Choice Award. 5 Stars
5 Star Rating


   Review Us On Google

Office Location

Salt Lake City Office
111 E. 5600 S. #105
Murray, UT 84107

Telephone: 801-651-1512
Fax: 801-255-2134
Salt Lake City Law Office Map




Greg Smith and Associates, Criminal Law Attorneys, located in Salt Lake City (SLC), also represents clients from communities such as Provo, Orem, Payson, Ogden, Park City, Sandy, Draper, West Valley City, Bountiful, Murray, West Jordan, Taylorsville, Farmington, Alta, Bluffdale, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Herriman, Holladay, Midvale, Murray, Riverton, Sandy, South Jordan, South Salt Lake, Taylorsville, West Jordan, West Valley City and Richfield; and counties including Salt Lake County, Summit County, Tooele County, Sevier County and Davis County, Utah.

Typically No Retainer - Easy Payments. *Call for details.


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Disclaimer

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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