VIC Defending a Theft Charge - How to Request Mobile Phone Location?

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Rod

Lawyer
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27 May 2014
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Hi guys,

Someone I know needs to prove they were in a particular location to help defend against a charge of theft (i.e.: not at the location of the theft). How do they go about requesting IMEI (unique handset ID) location information from their carrier so they can help prove where they were?

I know the Telstra mobile phone location information is not definitive proof, however in this case, because of other known information the location makes the defence much stronger.

Do they ask the carrier outright? If yes, is there a particular form they have to use?
Do they need a court subpoena?

Any other useful information would be appreciated. :)
 

John R

Well-Known Member
14 April 2014
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Sydney
Hi @Rod,
In my experience, such information requests are generally made by subpoena addressed to The Proper Officer of the telco.
Before issuing a subpoena, you may consider contacting the telco's Legal Department to understand which data they store and how long that data is stored for.

For example, Telstra made available a "Guidelines for serving of subpoenas including a list of compliance costs" in 2007 but it no longer appears to be available on the Law Society website. From memory, this was a useful document that also set out:
  • data stored by Telstra; and
  • how long Telstra retained/stored that data (timely, given the public interest in data retention!).
Sidenote - If the phone was used to make/receive calls/SMS or browse data over 3G/4G at the relevant time, your friend may also consider reviewing their bill and whether the suburbs/locations listed are sufficient to support their defence.

Hope this helps. Please keep us updated with your friend's progress.
 

Rod

Lawyer
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27 May 2014
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Interim update: Someone at the carrier (Telstra) in a legal area that deals with the police and court requests (ie not standard front of house) said they don't store the records I need but if I did need any records like location on a received call or SMS, then I need a court issued subpoena.