Travel records, credit card records and traditional phone bills have long been used to determine the location of a defendant at a given time.
Now cell phone technology that can be used to place a person at the scene of a crime — or not at the scene, which may be more damaging — is working its way into the courts.
Afentis, a British forensics firm (afentis.com), recently published a story about the surge in popularity and accuracy in the geographical placement of suspects or defendants in crime investigations based on the recorded GPS coordinates left by their cell phones. The article argued that while such data is largely irrefutable, expert witnesses both plaintiff and defense can play pivotal roles.
Rose Clifford, the editor of this newspaper and a legal nurse consultant, once worked on a medical malpractice case where a surgeon billed for services he did not perform, and in fact was on vacation far from the operating table, which credit cards records confirmed. Cell phone GPS records could have been discoverable had they existed at the time.
Physical placement of individuals under scrutiny is essential in some cases, and cell phone technology may be a forensic tool not to be overlooked.
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