Supreme Court Rules That Police Need Warrant to Search Cell Phones

Criminal defense lawyers and defendants accused of a crime are breathing a sigh of relief today after a welcome ruling by the Supreme Court. The Court ruled unanimously that police cannot search the cell phone of a criminal suspect without consent from the suspect or a warrant.

The argument for warrantless cell phone searches had been that smart phones and other electronic devices were in the same category as wallets, briefcases, and vehicles. These types of property are currently subject to limited initial searches by law enforcement if there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, to ensure officer safety, and/or to prevent destruction of evidence. Otherwise, a search warrant or consent is needed to search these types of property.

The Supreme Court ruling indicates that the justices disagreed that cell phones and electronic devices fall into the same categories as other types of property. The ruling is seen by many as an endorsement of privacy rights in a time where our personal privacy and security is a greater and greater question.

While the ruling doesn’t mean that the government isn’t monitoring your email and cell phone usage, at least it means that law enforcement can’t search the contents of your phone or tablet without a warrant.

If you believe that a search was executed illegally on your property and you were criminally charges as a result, your rights may have been violated and those facts may greatly help your case. Contact a North Carolina criminal lawyer for more information as quickly as possible.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.