The Navarette v California case that was decided a few weeks ago left an open question to be answered by the Supreme Court. Is it lawful for police officers to search through a person’s cell phone without a search warrant? Navarette was by far, not the first case where this important issue was raised. Smart devices are more prevalent every day. To put it in perspective, 1.5 million Android devices are activated every day – that’s just Android. People use their Smart phones and devices for everything from email to texting and social media to keeping a calendar. The amount of personal information or incriminating evidence that could be found on a cell phone is staggering.
The Supreme Court gave an overwhelming win to the Fourth Amendment in the case of cell phone search and seizure this past week. The Court voted unanimously that it is unlawful to search a person’s cellular device without a warrant since it can store a wealth of personal information that officers wouldn’t ordinarily have access to without a warrant. The only time that police will be able to search a phone without a warrant is if there is immediate danger of “destruction of evidence” when police are “pursuing a fleeing suspect,” and in order to “provide assistance to people who are seriously injured or are threatened with imminent injury.” Other cases that supported this ruling were Riley v California and United States v Wurie. In Riley’s case, police had searched his cell phone without a warrant and connected him to gang activity which subsequently identified him as a suspect in a shooting. Wurie’s case involved a flip phone rather than a smart phone, but the calls that he was receiving led police to a storehouse for drugs and guns.
One can clearly see how someone lawfully or unlawfully searching a cell phone can lead to all kinds of information and/or bigger problems for the phones owner than just invasion of privacy. The personal information on a cell phone is just that – personal. Without a warrant, police shouldn’t have the right or the ability to simply open your phone and search through the information, especially when they have other options. Phones can be held until a warrant is procured to avoid a suspect destroying evidence. That in itself is a way for officers to strong arm their way into personal information. Thankfully the Supreme Court didn’t allow it to become any easier.
If you believe that your rights have been violated by a police officer who has searched your phone without a warrant or if you’ve been accused of a crime and believe that you were a victim of an unreasonable search and seizure, you can schedule your free consultation with Robinson & Associates, by calling (443)-524-7395 or clicking today.