Supreme Court Rulings - FindLaw Blotter
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A New Jersey defendant was granted a new trial after the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that gangster rap lyrics found in his car cannot be used as evidence to help prove motive for attempted murder.

Vonte Skinner was convicted of shooting and paralyzing a drug dealer in 2005 based on rap lyrics that officers had found in Skinner's car -- lyrics which were read to the jury during his trial. The Star-Ledger reports that New Jersey's High Court decided unanimously that the fictional exploits described in Skinner's rap lyrics should not have been introduced as evidence of Skinner's guilt.

Is this a win for rap lyricists over prosecutors?

The U.S. Supreme Court laid down the law on warrantless cell-phone searches today, giving mobile users slightly more privacy when arrested.

The High Court unanimously held that warrantless cell-phone searches upon arrest are generally not permitted, recognizing how important our phones have become in our everyday lives. As USA Today reports, Chief Justice John Roberts opined that cell phones are so integral to daily life that Martians "might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy."

Essential or not, here are three things you should know about the Supreme Court's ruling on warrantless cell-phone searches:

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide whether cell phones can be searched upon arrest, potentially ending a pivotal legal disagreement in federal and state courts.

Two cases are before the High Court today: one in which a cell phone searche following arrest was upheld, and one in which a warrantless cell phone searches was deemed improper. Opponents of these warrantless cell phone searches argue there is no danger to officer safety or risk of losing evidence when a cell phone is seized, so officers should simply obtain a warrant to search them, reports The Associated Press.

Which way will the Supreme Court lean?

The U.S. Supreme Court determined Wednesday that child porn victims cannot collect restitution for their total losses from a single child porn possessor, but offenders do have to pay something.

In a 5-4 decision, the High Court determined that "Amy," a woman whose explicit child photos are among the "most popular" for traffickers in child pornography, could not recover $3.4 million for her total losses from one man who possessed two child-porn images of her, reports USA Today.

Victims of child porn, however, are still owed restitution under the law, the Court explained. Here are five key facts to help you understand the Supreme Court's position:

Police can search a shared home without a warrant as long as an occupant who is present consents to the search, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

In a 6-3 decision, the High Court affirmed that police don't need the permission of all occupants in a shared residence, as long as officers have the agreement of at least one resident who is physically present, The Associated Press reports.

Does this ruling in Fernandez v. California erode the protection against warrantless searches offered by the Fourth Amendment?

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement cannot obtain cell phone tracking information from wireless providers without a warrant.

In a unanimous decision issued Thursday, New Jersey's highest court demanded that police have a search warrant to procure sensitive cell phone data that will allow law enforcement to track an individual, reports The New York Times.

This decision is a slight change in tune from other federal rulings regarding cell phone data, but it might be a sign of a turning tide for privacy.

A new U.S. Supreme Court ruling limits the use of prior convictions under federal sentencing enhancements that give felons more prison time for having three or more prior convictions for certain crimes.

In Descamps v. U.S., defendant Matthew Descamps had been convicted of burglary in California in 1978, which the federal criminal court and Ninth Circuit had deemed as a "violent" felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA).

But the Supreme Court on Thursday struck down Descamps' 15-year sentence enhancement under the ACCA, limiting how courts can view prior convictions.

Suspects who are not in custody, and thus not entitled to Miranda warnings, can have their silence used against them unless they expressly invoke their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, the U.S. Supreme Court has held.

In a 5-4 decision handed down Monday, the Court in Salinas v. Texas determined that a suspect's silence after being asked a question during a voluntary police interview can be used against him during his criminal trial, reports the Associated Press.

Though Miranda shields defendants from the dangers of police interrogation, a suspect's protections are weaker when he is not in custody.

Police and law-enforcement officers can collect DNA samples from arrestees facing a "serious offense" without violating their Fourth Amendment rights, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The 5-4 decision in Maryland v. King overturned a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling which threw out a rape conviction and life sentence for Alonzo Jay King based on evidence collected from a post-arrest DNA swab, reports Reuters.

Is this case another erosion of arrestees' Fourth Amendment rights?

You can almost always refuse to answer police questions, but depending on the circumstances it may produce somewhat different legal results.

Here is a general breakdown of your legal options when questioned by the police in three common scenarios: