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Cell Phone Search Issue Before the Supreme Court

Posted on in Criminal Defense

illinois cell phone search lawyerThe Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects against unreasonable search and seizure by authorities. For this reason, police and other law enforcement officers must have a warrant in order to search you or your home for evidence of a possible crime. There are some exceptions to this warrant requirement, one of which being that police are allowed to search you when they are arresting you. In a current case, the Supreme Court of the United States is examining whether the search incident to arrest extends to a suspect’s cell phone.

How a Cell Phone May Implicate You

In this day and age, the majority of Americans have cell phones, and many people have smartphones, such as Androids or iPhones. These devices are more than simply phones, however, since many people use them as messaging systems, planners, organizers, account-managers, and mini-computers.

If police officers arrest you and search through your cell phone or smartphone, they may be able to find the following:

  • Everyone in your phone and email contact lists;
  • All of your texts and emails;
  • All activity and correspondence on social media sites;
  • Videos and photos;
  • Downloaded files or audio files;
  • Account information on applications for banks or other financial institutions;
  • Internet search history;
  • Your calendar and reminders;
  • GPS information regarding everywhere you have been; and
  • Medical data or other sensitive information in emails or files.

In short, the police could have access to a massive amount of personal information. A defense attorney argued to the Supreme Court that searching a smartphone is akin to searching through a person’s diary with all of their personal information and thoughts recorded.

In past cases, police have used information from cell phones and smartphones to determine a suspect’s home address, family contacts, and to associate them with other organized crime offenses based on communications in the phones, among other things. Additionally, law enforcement personnel have downloaded the files from phones onto their own computers to keep and add to databases. Even if a person was only arrested for a traffic issue or other minor citation, the police currently have access to and the ability to retain all of the arrestee’s personal information.

Whether or not police can search cell phones without a warrant is an extremely important issue for anyone arrested on suspicion of a criminal offense. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on warrantless cell phone searches by the end of June 2014.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney for Assistance

If you have been arrested or are facing criminal charges, an experienced DuPage County criminal defense lawyer can help stand up for your rights and build an aggressive defense on your behalf. Do not hesitate to call the law office of Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. today at 630-472-9700 for help.

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