Can your Fitbit reveal a crime you committed to the authorities?
Connie Dabate was found dead in the darkened basement of her home near Christmas 2015. Her husband, Richard, was found bleeding and lashed to a chair with zip ties in the kitchen. When he was found, he uttered a chilling piece of information – “They’re still in the house.”
But there was no one in the house. The masked intruder with the “Vin Diesel” voice who allegedly killed Connie and tortured Richard did not exist. And by gathering information about Connie’s movements through the home smart alarm system, Facebook, cellphones, email, a key fob and Connie’s Fitbit, police were able to create a minute-by-minute recreation of the events leading to Connie’s death. Richard was charged with his wife’s murder, implicated by the data stored on those devices.
Electronic Evidence in California Criminal Investigations
Electronic evidence is becomingly increasingly important in prosecution of crime. Prosecutors use this evidence to establish elements of crimes you are being charged with. Emails, instant messages, browser history, photos, videos, GPS information – police and prosecutors have broad access to this kind of information.
Under the Fourth Amendment, you are protected from unreasonable search and seizure. This means police must have a valid search warrant to seize electronics that might contain data related to the commission of a crime. However, when there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, police can search your devices without a warrant.
If police have seized evidence from you, you need to talk to an attorney anyway. Your attorney can help you make sure your rights were not violated in any way when evidence was seized, as well as fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed.