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Arson case brings up bigger issue of health care and privacy

Every criminal allegation should be taken seriously by the people who are charged. This means aggressively challenging the prosecution's case and fighting tooth-and-nail to protect the accused's rights.

This is harder to do in some cases when unique circumstances are involved. For instance, a recent case right here in Ohio has sparked disputes over whether a man's pacemaker can be used as evidence in a criminal case.

The man is currently accused of insurance fraud and arson stemming from allegations that he set his house on fire. When denying the allegations, the man stated that he saw the fire and then had to break a window to escape, after quickly packing up some essential items in the home. 

The prosecution challenged this chain of events, which is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is that they secured a warrant for data recorded by his pacemaker. A cardiologist analyzed the data and concluded that, based on his heart rate, cardiac rhythms and demand placed on the pacemaker, the man could not have completed the activities he said in the amount of time noted.

At issue is not the conclusion of the cardiologist. Rather, it is the use of the pacemaker data in the first place that has come under fire for potentially violating the man's right to privacy.

If this data is allowed in court, it could have a long-reaching impact on any case against a person with a medical device. Will people have to choose between having a life-saving device implanted and their privacy? What will happen to the protections we currently have over our medical information?

This is the bigger issue that must be addressed in the case before a ruling is made. If it is determined that accessing the pacemaker data is a violation of the man's privacy, any evidence, including the cardiologist's opinion, will not be allowed. If that happens, the prosecution may no longer be able to make their case.

This is one example of the importance of challenging all types of evidence in criminal cases. Having a defense attorney who knows how to do this will be critical if you or a loved one is facing criminal charges.

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