Supreme Court Cell Phone Ruling
On June 25, the Supreme Court ruled in a historic, unanimous decision that searching a cell phone by the police requires a warrant. The ruling was a significant victory for those in favor of stronger digital privacy rights, and it also shifted the ability of law enforcement to conduct a complete search of everything on an arrested person.
In his decision for Riley v. California, Chief Justice John Roberts held that modern cell phones contain significantly more sensitive information than any other material in an arrestee’s pockets, and a warrantless search of a cell phone represents a significant intrusion into the arrestee’s privacy. Moreover, modern cell phones are essentially more than just a phone and incorporate more information than phone records. Warrantless searching of cell phones by law enforcement gives unrestricted access to an arrestee’s most personal information. Prior to the digital age, most people did not carry around a massive cache of sensitive information on them, so the Court’s ruling protects an arrestee’s right to digital privacy.
What does this mean for you? If you are arrested for a crime and your cell phone is in your pocket, law enforcement requires a search warrant in order to lookthrough the phone’s contents. Any warrantless searching of a cell phone would be considered illegal under the new Supreme Court ruling. If the police ask you for permission to search through your phone, understand that they are not allowed to complete a search of your phone’s contents without your approval or a search warrant.
The interpretation of laws is constantly changing and evolving, and having an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands these changes is necessary to your defense. If you have been arrested or are under investigation for any crime, please contact me, James Davis, to represent you as your criminal defense lawyer. My many years of experience defending clients from a variety of criminal charges will improve your likelihood of achieving the best possible result with your case. For representation in Jacksonville, please contact me by phone at (904) 358-0420.