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December 10, 2014

Superior Court Clarifies “Course of Conduct” for Corruption of Minors

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has recently clarified that “course of conduct” requires multiple acts over time to trigger the felony grading for the offense of corruption of minors. In this matter, the Defendant was convicted of corruption of minors and indecent assault. The corruption of minors count was graded as a felony as the Commonwealth contended there was a “course of conduct.” The Defendant appealed and the Superior Court agreed. The Defendant, who...

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November 11, 2014

Fifth Amendment Does Not Protect Fingerprint-Protected Devices

A Circuit Court Judge in Virginia has ruled that fingerprints are not protected by the Fifth Amendment, a decision that has clear privacy implications for fingerprint-protected devices like newer iPhones and iPads. The ruling stemmed from a case involving a defendant who was accused of strangling his girlfriend. Prosecutors believed the defendant may have stored video of the attack on his phone, and requested that the judge force him to unlock it. If protected by a passcode, the defendant will not be required to unlock his phone under the Fifth Amendment, but if protected with a fingerprint,...

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September 17, 2014

Government Must Present Evidence of File Sharing for Distribution of Child Pornography

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has recently reviewed the case of United States of America v. David George Husmann. The case involved the distribution of child pornography. The defendant had allegedly placed various images of child pornography in a shared computer folder connected to a file sharing network. At trial, a jury convicted the defendant of three counts of distributing child pornography. The jury reached the verdict...

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September 11, 2014

Third Circuit Court of Appeals Finds Probable Cause to Search Fugitive’s Vehicle

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has recently decided the case of United States v. Donohue. The case was a result of a government appeal from the grant of a motion to suppress physical evidence. Mr. Donohue was a fugitive and was apprehended while he entered his son’s automobile. The police proceeded to conduct an extensive and lengthy search of the vehicle, ultimately finding a firearm and other evidence. In the District Court, a motion to suppress the physical evidence was presented. The Court suppressed the evidence because the police had no information...

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July 2, 2014

Supreme Court Says Phones Can’t Be Searched Without a Warrant

The Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cell phones of people they arrest after having reviewed two separate cases. Traditionally, the courts have long allowed warrantless searches in connection with arrests, saying they are justified by the need to protect police officers and to prevent the destruction of evidence. However, in the digital age, the court noted the vast amount of data contained on modern cellphones must be protected from routine inspection. Specifically, “Modern cellphones are not just another technological...

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