You’re Going To Need A Warrant For That, Officer
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Americans have a constitutional right to privacy in the personal information they carry on smartphones. Thus, police may not search your smartphone without a warrant.
Chief Justice Roberts stated how modern cellphones contain the average American’s privacies of life and are not simply just a piece of technology. Roberts continued by comparing smartphones to cameras, video players, calendars, tape recorders, diaries and the like. All of these items would require a search warrant for law enforcement to search so the same should apply to the smartphone.
Now, law enforcement must convince a magistrate that they have probable cause to believe a crime is involved before they search a suspect’s smartphone and not just during the course of a routine arrest and search.
Prior to this Supreme Court decision, law enforcement agents would routinely search a suspect’s cellphone during an arrest without a warrant under the “search incident to arrest” exception. The Court decided that this was no longer valid, as applied to cellphones, since the “search incident to arrest” exception has been traditionally limited to officer safety and to protect against destruction of evidence.
Law enforcement likes to search cellphones when there is a drug possession arrest, drug transportation arrest or possession for sales arrest in an attempt to find drug transaction text messages and/or contacts. If you have been arrested for those charges, there are likely to be some search and seizure issues involved in your case. For example, was there a search warrant? Was a confidential informant used? Was there a proper arrest? Was type of surveillance, if any, was used?
If you or someone you know has been arrested for drug possession, possession for sales or drug transportation in Los Angeles, Torrance, Pasadena or anywhere else in Southern California, contact attorney Ross Erlich today.