WASHINGTON, D.C. — A ruling today by the Supreme Court means police need a warrant to search the cell phone of a person who has been arrested, unless there are unusual circumstances.
Recently Memphis police have had several run ins with people who said their phones were confiscated by police officers.
Those incidents had more to do with people who were arrested for recording an incident involving police, but it is possible this decision could have a ripple effect.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “Modern cell phones are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.”
Justices used two cases to make their decision.
One case involved a basic flip phone, while another used a smartphone.
Police in both of those cases used information to connect a suspect to a crime.
Police in San Diego used pictures in from a smartphone which belonged to David Leon Riley’s smartphone as well as evidence found in his trunk to tie him to a gang and a shooting.
A woman named Brima Wurie was arrested by Boston police for suspicion of being involved in selling drugs.
A photo linked to a phone call on Wurie’s flip phone was used to link him to a stash of crack cocaine.
Civil libertarian groups argued that advances in technology mean that the right of individuals to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers or effects” as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution mean that police should seek warrants before rifling through suspects’ mobile devices.