Despite the fact that cellphones have become important tools in facilitating criminal activity and can provide the police with vast amounts of incriminating information about suspected criminals, police are required to have a warrant to search a cellphone.
In a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Chief Justice John G Roberts Jr. acknowledged the central role that cellphones play in contemporary life, commenting that the “proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy”. However, he went on to say that “just because technology has allowed a person to carry information in his hand, does not make it any less worthy of protection under the law”. The court therefore requires that law enforcement obtain search warrants before looking through an individual’s cell phone.
While the police may examine a phone for physical threats such as a concealed razor, after that, the phone is off limits unless there is a search warrant. The only exception may be in a ‘now or never’ situation, which may fall under a separate part of the Fourth Amendment law regarding ‘exigent circumstance’s that deal with a finding of probable cause and lack of sufficient time to get a warrant. But, other than that, the law is straightforward and set in stone. “What must the police do when they want to search a cellphone in connection with an arrest?”Get a warrant.
If you are being investigated or have been arrested in connection with a crime, contact the criminal defense law offices of Andrew C Ladd LLC for help. Among our strategies, particularly in the area of drug crimes, illegal weapon possession and Wisconsin OWI arrest, include legal challenges to probable cause and illegal search. Email or call or offices today for immediate assistance. Free consultation 262-542-3900.