The new technologies that people use every day are causing new questions on what can and cannot be permitted in regard to police stops. In recent years, many officers used confiscated information on cell phones to bolster their cases in court. However, the Supreme Court has weighed on the constitutionality of using this information without obtaining a warrant, which violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition on searches and seizures.
Riley v. California
The case before the Supreme Court stemmed from a police stop for a traffic violation. The police accessed the citizen’s cell phone information without a warrant and found gang terminology on the phone. A search at the police station, then connected the individual to a gang shooting.
United States v. Wurie
The second case before the Court involved an arrest for drug sales. The police accessed information on the phone without a warrant, traced certain calls back to his home. They obtained a warrant to search the premises and found drugs and a firearm.
The Supreme Court Ruling
In June of 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States sent down a unanimous ruling on the two cases. They determined that today’s cell phone technology acts as the personal documents of earlier days in our nation’s history. The Fourth Amendment was drafted in answer to the abuses of the British government, who were permitted to routinely rifle through personal property and documents for evidence of criminal or undesirable activity. They noted that these searches were one of the forces behind the American Revolution. The Court determined that the information contained in a cell phone requires a warrant for a search, just as would be needed for another other place where personal items would be contained.
When You Get Stopped By Police
If you are stopped by the police, and they attempt to search the contents of your cell phone, they are doing so in violation of set constitutional law. The police can examine the exterior of your phone to determine if it can be used as a weapon. Any data or information contained inside the phone is protected under Fourth Amendment rights, and if the police access it, you have grounds for a case of violation of your civil rights.
If your constitutional rights have been violated during a police stop, contact the office of Patrick Geckle by calling to discuss your legal options. Call Patrick G. Geckle LLC at 800-555-7780, 215-735-3326, or contact him online today.