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Court: warrantless cellphone tracking not illegal search

MIAMI — A federal appeals court has ruled that investigators do not need a search warrant to obtain cellphone location records in criminal prosecutions.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, overturning a three-judge panel of the same court, ruled Tuesday that authorities properly got records from MetroPCS for Miami robbery suspect Quartavious Davis using a court order with a lower burden of proof.

The 11th Circuit decided Davis had no expectation of privacy regarding records establishing his location near certain cellphone towers. The records were used to convict Davis of a string of armed robberies, leading to a 162-year prison sentence.

Two judges dissented, contending the Fourth Amendment requires probable cause and a search warrant for such records.

Davis’ lawyers could ask the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

CURT ANDERSON, AP Legal Affairs Writer