Know Your Rights: Police Need A Warrant To Search Your Cell Phone

August 13, 2014

warrant to search your cell phoneThe Supreme Court unanimously ruled on June 28 that police are required to get a search warrant before looking through an arrestee’s cell phone.

The decision officially overturns a 2012 Colorado Supreme Court decision finding that Aurora police had the right to look through a suspect’s phone during a drug investigation.

What the Police Are Doing

The Denver Police Department began requiring officers to get warrants before searching cell phones as soon as it became clear the Supreme Court would hear the Riley V. California case. Other law enforcement agencies, such as the Aurora and Colorado Springs police departments, left it to officer discretion. Law enforcement, prosecutors and Colorado criminal defense attorneys have been anxiously awaiting this court decision.

You Have Privacy Rights

This Supreme Court ruling could have a significant impact on your Colorado criminal case if police searched your cell phone subsequent to arrest or during an investigation without first getting a warrant. Evidence obtained from a cell phone without a warrant will not likely be admissible in court. Talk with a Denver criminal defense attorney about your case if your cell phone was searched.

Why Cell Phone Search Warrants Are Important

The Supreme Court has not been united on many decisions lately. But this one was big and important. If there ever were a decision in this political climate that should be unanimous – this was it. The Supreme Court ruled to protect our fundamental right to privacy and to enforce the 4th Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure. Justices in this ruling invoked the founding fathers when they compared cell phone searches to the British soldiers ransacking colonist homes in search of evidence of criminal activity.

How This Ruling Changes Things

The Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that law enforcement has the right to search the person of an arrestee. But people didn’t carry cell phones in 1973. “Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience,” Chief Justice Roberts writes. “With all they contain and all they may reveal they hold for many Americans the privacies of life.”

Contact a Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

If a police officer did not obtain a warrant to search your cell phone, or if you have been charged with a crime, whether officers searched your cell phone or not, contact the experienced Denver criminal defense attorneys at Farncombe, Schultz, and Farncombe. We will help you understand your rights and options.

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