MN: The state const. doesn’t bar geofence warrants, and this one was issued with PC under 4A and state constitution

Syllabus: “Geofence warrants, which authorize law enforcement to obtain location-history data of cellular devices that were within a defined area during a specified time frame, are not categorically prohibited by the United States and Minnesota Constitutions as general warrants, but instead are to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis according to established constitutional principles.” State v. Contreras-Sanchez, 2024 Minn. App. LEXIS 167 (Apr. 1, 2024):

Our conclusion that geofence warrants may be constitutional depending on the circumstances is consistent with the limited federal caselaw considering the constitutionality of such warrants. In those cases, courts have refused to hold that geofence warrants are categorically unconstitutional, and instead have observed that “the issue is whether the warrant is supported by probable cause and is particular in time, location and scope to ensure that there is a fair probability that evidence of the crime will be obtained.”

See, e.g., In re Search Warrant Application for Geofence Location Data Stored at Google Concerning an Arson Investigation, 497 F. Supp. 3d 345, 362-63 (N.D. Ill. 2020). We agree and hold that geofence warrants are not categorically prohibited as general warrants but rather the constitutionality of geofence warrants must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

. . .

In sum, based on the information presented in the warrant application, and affording the issuing judge great deference, we conclude that it was reasonable for the issuing judge to decide that there was a “fair probability” that M.M. had been murdered or assaulted, and that the geofence warrant would reveal the locations of devices owned by the suspects in M.M.’s death. See Wiggins, 2024 WL 1184456, at *4 (quotation omitted). We therefore reject Contreras-Sanchez’s argument that the geofence warrant was not supported by probable cause as required by the federal and state constitutions. We are not persuaded otherwise by Contreras-Sanchez’s argument that the geofence warrant lacked probable cause because the detective had not “developed suspects before seeking the warrant.” We reject this argument for two reasons. First, as the United States Supreme Court has observed, “search warrants are often employed early in an investigation, perhaps before the identity of any likely criminal and certainly before all the perpetrators are or could be known.” Zurcher v. Stanford Daily, 436 U.S. 547, 561 (1978).

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