The Law Firm of Frank Stanley, PC
Don’t Wait, Call Today
Local: 616-773-2702 / Toll Free: 1-877-459-8699
After Hours & Emergency Matters. No Charge for Initial Inquiry: 616-540-0007

Why police officers need warrants to search cell phones

Because cell phones, laptops and tablets are ubiquitous within our society, many criminal investigations involve the seizure and search of electronic devices. In some cases, the right to canvass private devices for information is obvious, but in others, law enforcement may overstep their bounds. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court court ruled unanimously in Riley v. California that law enforcement officers must obtain a search warrant before combing through a suspect’s cell phone for information to link him (or her) to a crime.

The high court reasoned that electronic devices could not be randomly searched in the same way as wallets or billfolds. Instead, they are devices that are capable of storing large amounts of privileged and proprietary information that authorities would commonly need a warrant to search. They further explained that the founding fathers intended to have this type of information protected by the Fourth Amendment. Because of this, law enforcement would not be allowed to procure information from electronic devices without a valid search warrant signed by a judge.

So what does that mean for you if you are arrested and have one of these devices (most likely a cell phone) on your person? It means that you cannot be compelled to provide law enforcement with passwords to unlock phones or tablets upon your arrest, and that authorities must establish probable cause in order to obtain a warrant for the search of your device. The warrant must also be specific as to the guidelines regarding the search.

In the meantime, if you are arrested and charged with a crime, having an experienced criminal defense attorney is important in protecting your rights.

The preceding is not legal advice. 

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

How can we help you?

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

The Law Firm of Frank Stanley, PC
234 N. Division Ave.
Suite 400
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Toll Free: 877-459-8699
Phone: 616-773-2702
Fax: 616-742-5689
Map & Directions