High court rules warrants necessary to search cellphones

On behalf of Philip Nathe

Though at one time a novelty, few people who reside in the Chicago area would dream of going anywhere without their cellphone. In addition to being a telephone, the device’s other capabilities make them a necessity for many. In fact, many would be lost without their phones because of all of the information they contain including schedules, contacts, photos, text messages and access to the Internet and email.

This past spring we wrote about a case that the U.S. Supreme Court was considering regarding the ability of law enforcement to search cellphones upon the arrest of an individual, without the existence of a search warrant. While law enforcement officers and their supporters likened the activity to searching a car or wallet of someone who has been arrested to make sure they there is not an imminent threat of harm, the court disagreed. In a 9-0 decision, it determined that such a policy is a violation of a person’s 4th Amendment rights.

There is no question that this decision will have a bearing on how law enforcement offers proceed in the future. It is possible that the policy will result in fewer criminal convictions. It is unclear how the decision will impact convictions already in place that were the result of a search off cellphone.

What is clear is that anytime someone faces criminal charges, regardless of the catalyst for them, that person should take steps to create a solid defense against the charges. The first step is generally to contact a criminal defense lawyer.

Source: CNN, “Supreme Court: Police need warrant to search cell phones,” Bill Mears, June 25, 2014

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High court rules warrants necessary to search cellphones