Our Lutz Criminal Defense Attorneys discuss cell phone triangulation and the potential impact on the investigation into a criminal charge. Anyone that has watched any of the television crime dramas involving the investigation of crimes in the last 20 years has certainly heard the phrase – cell phone triangulation. In short, this process involves the police utilizing cell phone towers to hone in on the location of a cell phone. The easiest way to think about it is that your cell phone is essentially constantly making contact with cell towers around it to ensure it is able to receive calls, text messages, e-mails, and updates for applications, like Facebook and Twitter. While your cell phone is constantly reaching out to make a handshake with these towers, the tower is constantly making a handshake back with it to ensure service is proper and it’s still within the applicable range of those towers. When the cell phone goes from tower to tower those towers are essentially passing that cell phone on and inadvertently passing the location of that cell phone on. By determining the rough distance to/from each tower, law enforcement is able to determine a rough estimate of one’s location.
As you can imagine, as cell phones have grown more complex and more common, this has become an incredibly useful tool for law enforcement in investigating a wide variety of crimes. It is especially helpful in the investigation of offenses that take place in rural areas, where there are few cell phones and it’s more difficult to make an explanation as to why one was there. For example, as you can imagine, it would be more difficult to explain why your cell phone was in the outskirts of Parrish, Florida as opposed to in Downtown Tampa.
This isn’t to say there aren’t issues with cell phone triangulation, but at this point the science is somewhat well founded and difficult to challenge. Again, just because someone’s cell phone was present or near a crime scene at some time, that doesn’t necessarily make that individual guilty of the allegations. Further, many times law enforcement is unable to determine the exact time an incident occurred, so the time on the cell phone being present in the area isn’t necessarily indicative of guilt.
We have experience challenging scientific evidence, just like cell phone triangulation through a myriad of different ways. If you or someone you know has questions concerning a Tampa criminal defense matter, contact the Tampa criminal defense attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation. If you’d like to contact one of our Tampa criminal defense attorneys immediately, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website. Thank you for taking the time to check out our Tampa criminal defense attorney blog. We look forward to working with you in the future.