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Are cell phone searches legal by a police officer?

Cell phone searches are legal by a police officer if he has a search warrant.  The U.S. Supreme Court decided in the case of Riley v. California just this June, 2014, that in most cases a search warrant is required.  There may be some exigent circumstances which could possibly excuse the warrant requirement, but that was not an issue nor really addressed in the Riley case.

Police may seize the phone, turn off the phone and internet, and prevent the phone from being accessed remotely to delete evidence while a warrant is sought.  Before this Supreme Court decision, it was not unusual for officers in many cases to seize the cell phone, conduct cell phone searches by checking calls, messages, photos and internet information.  Often times this would yield evidence against the arrestee, especially in drug cases.  In drug cases there may be pictures of the person with drugs, cash, guns, and messages and responses concerning drug sales.  Now there has to be a warrant and probable cause shown to get that warrant.

If there is probable cause to get a warrant, phones still may be accessed with a search warrant.  It does protect people from routine illegal phone searches and can result in the suppression of unlawfully seized evidence.  Contact Christoph Law Offices at 760-941-5720 for a free consultation concerning your case.  Located across from Vista Courts for over 32 years, handling thousands of cases, we provide quality personal representation.  Let us help you get the best resolution in your case.

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