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Cell Phones Can Be Searched After Arrest, Justices Say


You better get a screen lock! The ipad will completely erase after 10 bad attempts to put in password

The California Supreme Court made a controversial 5-2 ruling yesterday allowing police to search arrestees’ cell phones without a warrant. This finding is said to be in line with decisions made in the 1970s that items on an arrestee’s person during an arrest, such as cigarettes or a wallet, can be seized and later examined without a warrant.

The two dissenting judges argue that smart phones are uncharted territory, as they contain information that isn’t exactly part of the arrestee’s person. The judges also bring up the point that the seized property could easily be searched after obtaining a warrant. Additionally, this ruling likely violates the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

Back in 2007, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston of San Francisco ruled that police had violated drug defendants’ rights by searching their cell phones after their arrests. The Ohio Supreme Court reached a similar conclusion in December 2009. This will hopefully prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the matter.

This 4th Amendment Update is brought to you by Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake (SZL).  Maryland’s premier Criminal Defense & Personal Injury boutique law firm.