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Suspect requests NSA phone records to mount criminal defense

Louisiana residents have been hearing a lot recently about the government's surveillance of phone records. Recent revelations about the surveillance program have raised a lot of serious issues about security and privacy. One man who is currently facing criminal charges realized the program may also raise some possibilities for his criminal defense.

The man is charged with being part of a conspiracy that robbed armored trucks as they made deliveries of cash to banks. Prosecutors have been using cellphone records as evidence to prove that the men were nearby when the armed robberies occurred. The last of these robberies took place on Oct. 10, 2010, and prosecutors said that they could not get records for the man's cellphone from before September of that year because his cellphone carrier already had disposed of them.

After hearing the new revelations about the National Security Agency's program to monitor cellphone records, the man and his lawyer argued that the government should turn over its own records of the man's cellphone usage during that time period. The records, if they exist, could show that the man was not present or nearby at the robberies or planning sessions. Prosecutors argued that even if the government's records do exist, they may not be relevant if it turns out that the man was not carrying a phone at the times in dispute.

Those who are accused of crimes in Louisiana are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and so the prosecution must have very strong evidence in order to prove its case. One of the most important aspects of a criminal defense strategy is to question every piece of evidence that the prosecution puts forward.

Criminal defense can be painstaking, time-consuming work, but it is absolutely vital to the accused. The penalties for crimes such as armed robbery are severe and so the accused needs to take all steps necessary to establish a very strong defense.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Bank robbery suspect wants NSA phone records for his defense," Paula McMahon, June 12, 2013