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Supreme court rules police need a warrant to search cell phones

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The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that police must have a warrant to search the content inside a cell phone of a person who has been arrested.

The decision is the result of two cases that were brought to the Supreme Court, Riley v. California and U.S. v. Wurie, both of which involved police who searched the content of cell phones of people who had been arrested but without asking for a warrant beforehand.

However, in a decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the nine members of the Supreme Court all agreed that "police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested."

The court did state there will be a few exceptions to this rule, such as cases that involve kidnappings and bomb threats that generate what the judges consider to be "exigent circumstances". However, today's decision finally does offer solid guidance on what the police can and cannot do when they arrest people with cell phones.

What do you think about this new court ruling and do you support the fact that police will now need to get a warrant before they can search inside the contents of a cell phone?

Source: U.S. Supreme Court

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Reader comments

Supreme court rules police need a warrant to search cell phones

9 Comments

Thrilled that it was a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court. We've seen so much erosion of our civil rights in the past decade, it's good to see the Supremes turn the clock back a bit and draw a very clear line in the sand.

Thanks Peter, you've already said about exactly what I was gonna write. I couldn't agree more.
I also hope this one ruling is just a start as there are so many other examples of civil rights erosions in out society on recent years.

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A legal victory for the average person. These are rare in the twenty-first century in the U.S. Savor it while we all can....

It really is a common sense rulling. Just because a person is arrested, the police cannot search his house for evidence. Same with a laptop he may be carrying at the time of arrest. The phone is no different. A search warrant protects the person's rights, but also protects the possible evidence that may be used in court.

If it were up to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals they would not have ruled this way, so I'm thankful it was not up to them...!