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Stingray Revealed: Cell-Site Trackers And The 4th Amendment

Publisher: Law360
January 25, 2017
Day Pitney Author(s) Daniel E. Wenner

Dan Wenner wrote an article, "Stingray Revealed: Cell-Site Trackers And The 4th Amendment," for Law360. In the article, Wenner explores the Fourth Amendment concerns of cell-site simulators in United States v. Patrick, 842 F.3d 540 7th Cir. (2016). After police used a cell-phone locating device called a "Stingray" to locate a fugitive, he was arrested with a gun and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of federal law. The district court denied the defendant's request to suppress the gun. He appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, claiming his arrest was the result of an illegal search because the police used the locating device. "He argued for suppression or, at the very least, that the court should remand the case for further fact-finding about the use of the Stingray,"Wenner wrote. In its opinion affirming his conviction, the majority reasoned that because the defendant was discovered on a public street, the police did not even need a search warrant. Describing a dissenting opinion by Chief Judge Diane P. Wood which raised concerns about the use – and potential abuse of the Stingray, Wenner writes, "To her, using the Stingray raises serious Fourth Amendment implications that ought to be explored." Aside from the outcome of Patrick, Wenner writes, one thing is certain: "The Stingray has come out from the shadows and will no doubt be the subject of innumerable inquiries in state and federal prosecutions as defense attorneys discover whether their clients were apprehended with the help of cell-site locators and, if so, whether their use was lawful."

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