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No More Cell Phone Fishing Expeditions

The United States Supreme Court just struck a blow for the 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches by the government or in this case by the arresting officer after a lawful arrest. It is well established that the officer can search the immediate area after an arrest for safety and preservation of evidence purposes. But does this mean the officer can take your phone and go right to your pictures, emails, and texts looking for anything that smells criminal. The United State Supreme Court unanimously said “no”.

In Riley v California, the defendant was arrested for drug sales and his cell phone was seized.Later a number that was found on his phone was used to get a warrant to search his home where more drugs and a gun were found. The Court found that the arresting officer had no right to search the contents of a cell phone without first obtaining a warrant supported by sufficient probable cause.

The Court recognized the incident to arrest exception to a warrant did not extend to allowing the police a look into someone’s entire life just because they were arrested with their phone in their pocket or purse. I welcome anyone to click on the link and read the Court’s written opinion.
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