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Should Police Need Warrant to Search Cell Phones?

 
Posted April 30th, 2014 @ 4:33am by KTRH's Nik Rajkovic

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on whether a warrant is needed to search cell phones of those already in custody.

Law-enforcement advocates argue cell phones are similar to other items found on someone at the time of arrest, but defense lawyers say searching someone's phone is like searching their bedroom.

“Do cell phones require a new rule because of the vast amount of information and how much more of an invasion of privacy it is than searching through your wallet, searching through your purse or searching through your address book?” asks Charles 'Rocky' Rhodes at the South Texas College of Law.

The two cases before the high court involved police who accessed a detainee's cell phone to find new evidence leading to additional charges.

“When somebody gets arrested and you want to go to their house and search it, you typically have to have a search warrant,” Rhodes tells KTRH News.

“The difference with respect to a cell phone is since you have that with you on your person at the time you are arrested, the normal search-incident-to-arrest doctrine allows the police to search everything you have with you,” he says.

Rhodes says the high court is typically reluctant to fit new technology in old time laws.

“Justice Antonin Scalia has been very concerned about government searches, and a lot of times he's been joining Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, so it really depends on if one of the other justices joins that group,” he says.

Right now, the circuit courts are split on whether cell phones are covered under the Fourth Amendment.

 

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