Former Municipial Court Judge

Former Assistant District Attny.

Denton County Office 940-580-2899
Collin County Office 972-954-1947

New computer crime modeling poses 4th Amendment issues

Tim Powers

Law Office of Tim Powers


New computer algorithm models are being used by law enforcement agencies to determine where to send officers to stop crime or prevent criminal acts before they happen. According to officials, the programs are working successfully, but critics anticipate that they could lead to 4th Amendment infringements.

The technologies are being used nationwide and could potentially be employed by agencies in cities all across Denton County and the DFW metroplex. Any violation is a valid criminal defense and grounds for potential case dismissal.

"Predictive policing" sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. Police officers use programs that quickly analyze data to determine where crimes may be committed before they actually happen. Many legal observers see a risk in the programs and the potential for infringement of citizen rights. They could eventually lead to unlawful search and seizure or a justification for probable cause.

Supporters of the technology see the benefit of predicting crimes before they happen. Officers claim to see a reduction in burglaries and other property crimes by placing officers in high-crime areas. While "crime mapping" is a common practice, the computer database is able to quickly process information on past crimes and possible patterns. By tracking crimes, the agencies they deploy officers where they consider to be "trouble spots" in areas as small as 500 square feet.

While the idea of preventing crimes before they happen is attractive, it could potentially give law enforcement agencies a power that could lead to racial profiling or stereotyping certain neighborhoods. Citizens do have an interest in crime prevention, though not at the cost of Constitutional rights.

With all new technology, law enforcement agencies must be accountable for 4thAmendment search and seizure violations.

If you are seeking aggressive criminal representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney for your Denton County criminal case or arrest in Denton County, contact the offices of Tim Powers today. There is no charge or obligation for the initial consultation. 940.580.2899.

*Tim Powers is an attorney licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any specific legal question you should directly consult an attorney.