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How Does the iPhone’s New ‘Cop Button’ Work?

Cell phones have been the new frontier in search and seizure law, and for a while they've been giving fits to law enforcement and the courts. Can customs search your cloud data at the border? Can the feds force tech companies to provide access to phone data? Can a warrant give police access to everyone's phone at a given location? Can police 3-D print a finger to unlock a phone? Wait, what? It may seem weird, but courts actually treat passcodes and fingerprints differently when it comes to unlocking phones, and more and more people are becoming aware that their phones are actually less secure (from law enforcement anyway) with fingerprint access. So, naturally, Apple came up with a fix for that -- the "cop button." Physical Evidence and Metaphysical Contents More accurately, as the Verge describes, it's like a cop sequence of taps. Apple's upcoming iOS11 for the iPhone will let users tap the power button five times for emergencies. This then allows someone to dial 911 while also disabling the phone's Touch ID feature until they enter a passcode. Essentially, Apple is giving iPhone users "a far more discreet way of locking out a phone." Those who haven't been following recent search and seizure case law may be asking themselves why locking out a phone would be useful, or having a passcode accessible phone would be any more secure from police searches than a fingerprint accessible phone. As we mentioned above, courts, and thus law enforcement, treat them very differently. Combinations and codes, to an individual, have generally been considered the "contents of his own mind," and therefore beyond the government's power to compel production. Whereas keys and fingerprints are physical evidence, which "may be extracted from a defendant against his will." FaceTime? There's another reason this distinction may matter, and why the "cop button" may be necessary in the near feature. Apparently, iOS 11 will also introduce face unlocking on the next iPhone. Giving law enforcement another piece of physical evidence that grants them access phone, and giving users another reason to have a way to disable that access. Different jurisdictions have been treating cell phones -- and the ways in which law enforcement may force people to unlock them -- in different ways. To find out the law where you live, contact a local criminal defense attorney. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Can the Feds Force You to Unlock Your Phone With Your Fingerprint? (FindLaw Blotter) Florida Judge: Give Up Your Smartphone Passcode or Go to Jail (FindLaw Blotter) Are Warrantless Cell Phone Searches Legal? (FindLaw Blotter)
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Driver Liability for Cell Phone Related Car Accident

How an accident happens will largely determine who is ultimately held liable. If the at fault driver was found to have caused the accident while talking or texting, they will likely have more difficulty defending their case, and they may potentially face additional penalties. Nearly every state has laws on distracted driving, and most include some limitations on the use of cell phones by drivers. Regardless of whether you have an ear piece, integrated Bluetooth, or speakerphone system, if you are talking or texting on a cell phone while driving, an officer or other party can claim that you were driving while distracted. According to the most recent report by the NHTSA, one in ten on the road fatalities involved distraction. Accidents While Phoning or Texting If a driver is found to be at fault for an accident, then they can also be found liable for the injuries and property damage they caused. While a majority of auto accident cases settle out of court, the facts concerning how the crash happened are relevant to establishing the injured party's case for damages. When a jury is asked to decide an auto accident injury case, they will usually be tasked with deciding two primary issues:Whether the defendant caused the injuries and damages.How much money should be awarded to the plaintiff for suffering the injuries and damages. In most jurisdictions, if both parties are considered to be partly at fault, or fault is uncertain, the party that is found to be more than 50% at fault, generally is the party held responsible for the damages. If a party was on the phone when the accident occurred, they may be found some percentage (comparatively) at fault. In states like California, if a driver is found to be 25% at fault, any award they receive will be reduced by their percentage of fault. Rear-Ended While Talking on the Phone There are some auto-accident cases where it won't matter if the victim was on the phone or texting. If you are stopped at a red light, and you get rear-ended while texting or talking on the phone, it is highly unlikely that your texting or talking had anything to do with causing the accident. In this sort of a situation, your phone use, while still potentially against the law, generally cannot be used to attack liability. Related Resources: Find Personal Injury Lawyers in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) What's More Dangerous Than Texting and Driving? (FindLaw's Injured) 1 in 4 Car Crashes Involves Cell Phone Use: Report (FindLaw's Injured) Is Apple Liable for Distracted Driving Accidents? (FindLaw's Injured)
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Your Significant Privacy Interest in Your Phone Doesn’t End at Border

Your phone now contains more information than ever before, more even than your home, and the courts recognize this. You do have a significant privacy interest in your phone and you can challenge a search of your tech just as you would a search of your car. Two years ago, the Supreme Court acknowledged the significant role of technology in our lives in Riley v. California. A recent case out of the Eastern District of Virginia, US v. Kolsuz, illustrates this, saying specifically that search of a smartphone at a border requires reasonable suspicion, according to legal analyst Orin Kerr. Let's consider what it means for you. Attached to our Phones Chief Justice Roberts, writing for a unanimous court in Riley v. California, was cognizant of the role that cell phones play in contemporary life, and our significant attachment to our tech. The phone are, he said, "such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy." In the more recent case, US v Kolsuz, the court rejected prosecutors' attempts to distinguish between two kinds of searches -- an extensive cell phone search from a very extensive one. The court found that either type of forensic search of cell phone data invades privacy and requires a warrant. It noted that the government can reconstruct an individual's private life by putting together the data in the phone and wrote, "Thus although the forensic search of defendant's iPhone did not involve the copying of every bit of data contained on the phone's hard drive, it nonetheless implicated significant privacy interests. To suggest otherwise is like suggesting that a strip search does not implicate a significant privacy interest so long as the government does not look between the person's toes." Search and Seizure The courts are increasingly finding we have a significant privacy interest in our technology, and recent rulings indicate that police must treat personal items like smartphones as they would your home or person. But remember that these cases arise when someone is challenging what already happened. This means that in reality when you are at the border, authorities may ask to search your phone and it is up to you to say no. Even if your phone is taken, you significantly improve your chances of successfully challenging the search by clearly refusing to consent to it. Accused? If you have been accused of a crime, don't delay. Speak to a criminal defense attorney today. Many lawyers consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Probable Cause (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Police Misconduct and Civil Law (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) The Fourth Amendment Warrant Requirement (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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Top 9 Search and Seizure Questions

Now that the FBI has been caught bugging two California courthouses, many people are wondering about the limits of police surveillance. Recording conversations falls under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures." So what's considered unreasonable? It's been a long time since the Constitution was written, and society and technology have changed quite a bit since then. Here are some of the limits of police search and seizure today: 1. Valid Search Warrant? 3 Things to Look For If police have a warrant, the search or seizure will almost always be reasonable. But how do you know if the warrant is legit? 2. When Are Warrantless Searches OK? While police need a warrant to search, seize, or conduct surveillance in most instances, there are quite a few exceptions to the warrant requirement. 3. Can Police Read or Search Through Your Mail? The privacy of written communication was one of the leading interests behind the Fourth Amendment. But it only protects the contents of the letter, and only until you throw it away. 4. Legal for Police to Read My Text Messages? State law on electronic searches can vary, and many allow searches of cell phones if you've been arrested, but the Supreme Court has ruled that police will need a warrant to do so. 5. When Can Police Search Your Home? Police almost always need a warrant to search your home, but can come in without one if you give them permission, if they see something in plain sight, if you've been arrested at home, or there's an emergency. 6. Can My Home Be Searched If I'm on Parole or Probation? Some states require that parolees and probationers sign an agreement giving officers permission to search their homes for contraband. 7. Is it Legal to Search Based on The Smell of Marijuana? Is every officer a K-9? It may depend on whether police smell marijuana in your house or in your car. 8. Can Police Follow You Without a Warrant? What if cops are really searching you, but just keeping an eye on you? What kind of surveillance requires a warrant? 9. When Can Police Conduct a Strip Search? Strip searches and cavity searches are extremely invasive and can be humiliating and embarrassing as well. But they are allowed in some cases. In most cases, if police perform an illegal search or seizure, that evidence can't be used against you. To find out if a particular search was legal, you should ask an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) What are my Rights During a Traffic Stop? (FindLaw Blotter) Can Cops Pose as Cable Repairmen and Search My Home? (FindLaw Blotter) Wrongful Arrest? ...
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Show of Hands: How Many Americans Support Cellphone Driving Laws?

How many Americans support laws that limit cellphone use while driving? According to a new FindLaw.com survey, it depends on what kinds of limits you're talking about. Half of those surveyed (50 percent) said they support laws that require hands-free cellphone use while driving, while 42 percent said they support a complete ban on drivers' cellphone use. Just 8 percent said they didn't support any limits at all. Regardless of your feelings on the issue, laws restricting cellphone use while driving are in effect from coast to coast. Here are three facts you may not know: In many states, laws on cellphone use while driving allow for "primary enforcement." Laws regarding handheld cellphone use while driving vary by state. (The Governors Highway Safety Association maintains this handy list of state-specific distracted-driving laws.) Many states allow for "primary enforcement" of these laws, which means a driver's cellphone violation can, in and of itself, be the basis for a traffic stop. However, in other states, laws may require a separate traffic violation in order for a driver to be ticketed for cellphone use while driving. With laws in place, police are coming up with clever ways to catch violators. While it's often easy to spot a driver with a cellphone pressed against his face, it's less easy to tell when a driver may be surreptitiously sending text messages in violation of the law. That's why some jurisdictions are coming up with clever ways to catch distracted drivers in the act, like using special SUVs to give state troopers a "boost" in their enforcement efforts. In one court's opinion, a person who texts a driver can potentially be held liable for crash-related injuries. This interesting legal twist arose after a 2009 crash; the driver had received two text messages before the accident occurred. A New Jersey appellate judge chided the teenager who sent the text, explaining that she may have had "a duty not to text someone who is driving" if she'd known the recipient would "view the text while driving." That's potentially significant because establishing a legal "duty," along with a breach of that duty, are key elements in proving negligence. Like it or not, cellphone-use-while-driving restrictions are in effect in most states. To learn more about these and other rules of the road (and what to do if you get a ticket), head over to FindLaw's comprehensive section on Traffic Laws. Related Resources: Browse Traffic Ticket Lawyers by Location (FindLaw) Texting and Driving: 3 Ways to Prove It (FindLaw's Blotter) 3 Texting Crash Videos Every Driver Should Watch (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Top 10 Tips for Distracted Driving Awareness Month (FindLaw's Injured)
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Top 3 Everyday Legal Questions From FindLaw Answers: January 2015

You've got questions... we've got answers. If you have not yet asked or answered a question in FindLaw's Answers community, what are you waiting for? This amazing free resource supports a dynamic community of legal consumers and attorneys helping each other out. Simple as that. We see a lot of great questions in our Answers community every day. Here's a look at the Top 3 recent questions from our various boards: 1. Both my parents passed away without a will. There is a family cabin (not worth very much money) that I would like to have and my sister does not want. How do I go about doing that? This is a great question; issues with wills, inheritances, and general estate planning are popular on our boards. In this instance, the individual is actually dealing with two issues: what happens to his parents' estate because they died without a will, and how to get his sister to disclaim her inheritance. 2. Is it possible to modify child support to ensure that the money received is being spent for the child's needs? My ex-wife spends all the money I give her every month on cell phones for the kids, trendy clothing, and every cable channel ever! This question was posted by a concerned father looking for advice from the community on if and how he can put more restrictions on the child support he pays to his ex-wife every month. An interesting twist on a typical child support question (which usually has to do with changing the payment amount), the simple answer to his particular question was: no. With great responses from a handful of community members, the general conclusion was that the kids were being provided for and that child support is not intended to only cover bare necessities but rather a range of expenses, including things like entertainment. 3. Long story short, I worked for a company for 7 months. During that time, I was promoted, demoted and fired because I was asked to do something that violated FDA regulations. Do I have a case for retaliation? The real legal question here is whether this community member was fired from his company for whistleblowing. This is a perfect example of someone who should speak with an employment law attorney for multiple reasons. Not only are these types of cases time-sensitive, but an experienced attorney can also help a terminated employee figure out whether he has a retaliation claim worth pursuing. What many people do not realize is that the majority of the attorneys in FindLaw's free lawyer directory offer free consultations -- this represents a great chance to find an attorney you like and get a realistic idea of what your case will look like. Related Resources: Child Support Modification (FindLaw) Protection for Whistleblowers (FindLaw) Does Child Support Stop When a Kid Turns 18? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Reasons You Shouldn't Wait to Call an Estate Planning Lawyer (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Can You Get Arrested for Buying Stolen Goods?

You may not know it, but the item you just bought via eBay or Craigslist may have been stolen. But don't worry. While there are laws against receiving stolen goods, they typically state that the purchaser or receiver must know (or should know) that the items are stolen. So what can happen if you unknowingly buy stolen goods (especially for purchases that, in hindsight, just seemed too good to be true)? Can you get arrested? The answer depends on your specific situation. Here are a few possibilities: Know someone who has been arrested or charged with a crime? Get in touch with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in your area today. No Knowledge, Probably No Crime State laws differ on the crime of buying, selling, and/or receiving stolen property, but a common thread persists: The receiver of the stolen property must know that it is stolen. California, for example, levies a misdemeanor penalty against those who buy or receive stolen property, but only "knowing the property to be so stolen." In New York as well, criminal prohibitions against possessing stolen property typically apply to those who "knowingly" possess it, not those who unwittingly buy stolen goods. The law typically gives a break to those who unknowingly buy goods which are the fruits of theft, but there is a line. Specific Laws for 2nd-Hand Sellers, Buyers Pawn shops, swap meets, and flea markets are havens for thieves looking to fence stolen merchandise. And while the average flea market shopper will likely be protected from criminal prosecution, the same cannot be said for pawn shop owners and flea market vendors. Most states require that anyone in the business of selling second-hand property (thrift stores, flea markets, pawn shops, etc.) to make a reasonable inquiry into whether a seller has legal right to the property. States like Texas go even further, requiring that buyers of second-hand merchandise record the seller's name, address, and physical description as well as obtain a signed warranty that the seller has right to possess the property. If something about a certain item smells fishy, a vendor or pawn shop cannot simply play dumb and purchase the item. Actions that amount to recklessness in purchasing potentially stolen goods may lead to criminal charges. Return and Restitution Although you will likely not be charged with a crime, if you unknowingly bought stolen goods, you will probably have to return them to the rightful owner. The thief (or thieves) will then owe you the purchase price in restitution. Related Resources: Top 10 Cities for Stolen Cell Phones (FindLaw's Blotter) $7M Shoplifting Spree: Ill. Family Arrested (FindLaw's Blotter) Did 'Pawn Stars' Shop Melt Down $50K in Stolen Coins? (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice) 'Hardcore Pawn' Stars Arrested Over Repawned Stolen Goods (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
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Top 10 Tips for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The National Safety Council has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the Council, thousands of people die each year in crashes caused by cell phone use while driving. But phone calls and text messages aren't the only distractions drivers should try to avoid while behind the wheel. Here are 10 tips and facts to keep in mind for Distracted Driving Awareness Month: New teen drivers are distracted more easily. Drivers between the ages of 15 to 20 make up only 6.4 percent of drivers on the road, but account for 11.4 percent of traffic fatalities. So parents, please teach your kids responsible driving habits. Every distracted second counts. Keep in mind that if you're looking down at your cell phone for only 4 seconds while driving, you could be driving the entire length of a football field without looking at the road. Eating while driving can be considered distracting. Although Distracted Driving Awareness Month focuses more on cell phone use, eating while driving can get you pulled over if cops think your snack time is taking your attention off the road. Cell phone records can be used in court. Think you can keep your cell phone use while driving a secret? Think again. Text-message and call records from cell-phone companies can be used in court to prove that you were distracted when the accident occurred. Texting and driving can lead to child endangerment charges. A California mom was arrested when she was caught texting and driving while she had her 1-year-old baby in her lap without any child restraints. Distracted driving can lead to public shaming. A local project in San Francisco called "TWIT Spotting" encourages bystanders to snap pictures of distracted drivers and turn them in. The photos are then posted on the "TWIT Spotting" website or placed on billboards in an effort to publicly shame the driver for his dangerous behavior. Texting crash videos will make you think twice. While they may be hard to watch, texting crash videos serve as a somber reminder of what can happen when you take your attention away from the road, even for a split second. Hands-free cell phone use can still be distracting. Although hands-free cell phone use while driving is generally legal in many places, it can still be a distraction for drivers who get wrapped up in their conversations and forget about the road. Use an app to curb your bad habits. There are smartphone apps out there that automatically shut off your messaging apps and temporarily stop incoming calls and text messages when you're driving. You could land in some deep doo-doo. Finally, there's a lesson to be learned from the driver who was texting while driving a rented convertible when he crashed into a truck hauling liquid manure. So don't be a doo-doo head and steer clear of all distractions while you're driving. Although Distracted Driving Awareness Month only lasts until the end of April, you should hang up all bad habits that lead to distracted driving year-round. To learn more about distracted driving laws and potential consequences, check out FindLaw's article on Distracted Driving. Related Resources: Cell Phone Crash Data (National Safety Council) Texting and Driving: 3 Ways to Prove It (FindLaw's Blotter) Texting a Driver May Make You Liable: N.J. Court (FindLaw's Injured) Driver's Google Glass Ticket Dismissed; Judge Sees No Proof (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
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1 in 4 Car Crashes Involves Cell Phone Use: Report

More than one in four car crashes involves cell phone use, according to a new report by the National Safety Council. Perhaps even more surprising, only 5 percent of cell phone-related crashes involve texting, while 21 percent involve drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cell phones, according to the report. The findings serve as a grim reminder than talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel -- even on a hands-free device -- can be incredibly dangerous. Distracted Driving Is Underreported, NSC Believes In 2012, 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. According to the National Safety Council's report, 26 percent of crashes involved cell phone use. It is believed cell phone use (even hands-free use) contributes to so many car accidents because drivers get wrapped up in their conversations and stop paying attention to the road -- the exact definition of distracted driving. As far as crash data collection goes, nearly all states include at least one category for distraction on police crash report forms, although the specific data collected varies. The Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria guideline provides best practices on distraction data collection, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Nevertheless, the NSC believes the data on distracted crashes is underreported, WCBS-TV reports. If so, that means cell phones could be involved in far more car accidents than most people realize. Distracted Driving Laws Here is a breakdown of state laws on distracted driving, as provided by the GHSA: Hand-held cell phone use. Twelve states and Washington, D.C., prohibit drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. These are "primary enforcement" laws, meaning an officer can cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place. All cell phone use. No state has a complete ban on all cell phone use while driving, but 37 states and the District of Columbia ban all cell phone use by novice drivers (for good reason); in addition, 20 states and D.C. prohibit cell phone use by school bus drivers. Text messaging. Currently, 42 states and Washington, D.C., prohibit text messaging for all drivers. Another five states prohibit text messaging by novice drivers and three states restrict school bus drivers from texting as well. So if you find yourself receiving text messages while behind the wheel, do everyone a favor and pull over to the side of the road to catch up, gossip, and figure out dinner plans. Otherwise your next call may be to an experienced car accident lawyer near you. Related Resources: Distracted Driving Awareness Month: Cell phone use increases accidents (Nebraska City News Press) Texting and Driving? There's an App to Stop That (FindLaw's Injured) What's More Dangerous Than Texting and Driving? (FindLaw's Injured) Driver Tweets '2 Drunk 2 Care,' Then Kills 2 (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Legal How-To: Stopping Telemarketers

Do you know how to stop telemarketers from calling you? Adding your name to the National Do Not Call Registry is a simple and reasonably effective way to stop (or at the very least, significantly reduce) those pesky telemarketer phone calls. There are also a couple of other ways to prevent telemarketer calls. Here's an overview of how to get on the National Do Not Call registry and other ways to stop telemarketers: Sign up for the National Do-Not-Call Registry. On the National Do Not Call Registry's registration site, you can enter up to three phone numbers (home and personal cell phone numbers only) and your email address. Check your email for a message from Register@donotcall.gov. Open the email and click on the link within 72 hours to complete your registration. Sign up for your state's registry, if there is one. In addition to the national registry, some states like Wisconsin have their own do-not-call lists for residents. Contact your state's public service commission or consumer protection office to see if your state has such a list, and to find out how to register your number or numbers. Sign up for the telemarketer's internal do-not-call list. National and state do-not-call lists don't apply to certain telemarketers such as charities seeking donations, politicians seeking your vote, companies with which you have an existing business relationship (for example, if you're a customer), and survey companies doing opinion polls. With the exception of tax-exempt non-profit organizations, these telemarketers still must maintain an internal "do not call" list. To stop receiving calls from these telemarketers, tell them "Please put me on your internal do not call list," ABC News suggests. You will need to repeat the request once every five years, according to the Federal Communications Commission. If you still receive telemarketing calls, take notes and file a complaint with the FTC. Most telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file an FCC complaint or a Do Not Call Registry complaint. You probably can't get individual damages, but the offending company could receive warning citations and fines for violating the do-not-call rules. Filing a complaint is free. For additional help, consider consulting a consumer protection attorney in your area. Are you facing a legal issue you'd like to handle on your own? Suggest a topic for our Legal How-To series by sending us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #HowTo. Related Resources: Telemarketing Laws (FindLaw) FCC's Robocall and Text Message Rules Get Stronger (FindLaw's Technologist) Legal for Telemarketers to Call My Cell Phone? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Sign Up for Our Free Legal Planning Newsletter (FindLaw's Legal Heads-Up)
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