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Supreme Court Hands Down Decision on Cell Phone Warrants


On Wednesday, June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court handed down their decision on whether or not a warrant is required to search through an individual's cellphone. The Court made a unanimous decision that police must first get a warrant in order to look through a cellphone, including any applications on the device.

Chief Justice John Roberts stated that cell phones are unlike any other object that a police officer could find on an individual. According to the Court, cellphones contain a digital recording of almost every aspect of someone's life. Thus, a search through a cellphone is more invasive than a search of a wallet or purse.

The Court did not give their opinion on exigent circumstances, leaving the door open for police, in certain situations, to still have the ability to search through a cellphone without first obtaining a warrant.

The Supreme Court, in my opinion, made the right decision requiring a warrant to search the contents of a cellphone. Police should not have the ability to search through a cellphone without probable cause sufficient to obtain a warrant. As the Court pointed out, a cellphone is completely different than a wallet or purse. A cellphone could be considered a number of things such as camera, mp3 player, video recorder, and calendar. Police officers should not have the ability to take one device, without probable cause, and literally learn everything about a person's life. Such an action is highly intrusive into a person's expectation of privacy and Fourth Amendment rights.

As technology advances, the court system will continue to face the challenge of applying older law to new technology. Hopefully, the Court will continue to lay down precedent that protects a person's privacy from overzealous police fishing expeditions. The decision by the Court on Wednesday shows that the Supreme Court still believes that it should be the judge's decision whether or not to search and/or seize anything from an individual.

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