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Searches of Cell Phones Now Require a Search Warrant!

The United States Supreme Court ruled in Riley v. California , 573 U.S. ___ (2014), that searches of seized cellular telephones by law enforcement require a search warrant. In so holding, the United States Supreme Court recognized the privacy interest of citizens in their cellular telephones and the data that they contain.

In Riley, an individual appealed the admission of certain evidence gained as the result of a warrantless search of their cellular telephone. The cellular telephone was seized during an arrest of the individual and later searched by law enforcement. In holding that a search warrant was required to go through the data contained inside, the United States Supreme Court stated: "Cell phones differ in both a quantitative and a qualitative sense from other objects that might be carried on an arrestee's person. Notably, modern cell phones have an immense storage capacity…. [C]ell phones can store millions of pages of text, thousands of pictures, and hundreds of videos. This has several interrelated privacy consequences."

It is important to note that requiring a search warrant does not mean that law enforcement cannot ever search a cellular telephone. Instead, it means that a law enforcement officer must develop sufficient evidence that the cellular telephone could have evidence related to a crime that a judge finds that probable cause exists.

This has been an issue that the attorneys at Keffer Barnhart LLP have been monitoring for quite a while. You can read our earlier blog post on this issue by clicking here.

If you have been arrested or law enforcement has searched your cellular telephone, make sure to contact the attorneys at Keffer Barnhart LLP today. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to your case. Act now and contact us today at 1-800-NOT GUILTY or (317) 857-0160.