In a new case, Riley v. California, the US Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the search of an arrested person’s cell phone, incident to his arrest, without a warrant, is unlawful. The cell phone was found in Mr. Riley’s pocket at the time of his arrest, and was searched at the police station after officers noticed the repeated use of a term used by gangs. The police used the information in the phone to connect Riley with an earlier shooting, and used the gang informtion to enhance his sentence. Riley sought to have that evidence suppressed as a violation of his 4th Amendment right not to be subject to unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court found that his privacy interests, under the 4th Amendment, required that the police obtain a warrant from a magistrate before searching the phone. This holding is line with several recent Supreme Court cases requiring the police to obtain warrants when privacy interests are at stake, and shows and encouraging interest by the Court in protecting individual liberties in certain required situations.
Wade Russell, Attorney