Cell phone searches without a warrant are unreasonble searches and illegal. Anything found in that search may not be used against the person arrested. However, if there is sufficient information to get a warrant to search the contents of the phone, then it may be searched. There are also possible exigent circumstances that may justify the cell phone searches without a warrant, like officer safety or destruction of evidence.
The US Supreme Court in Riley v. California, 134 SC 2473 (2014), held that digital information on a cell phone searches cannot be conducted incident to arrest absent a warrant or exigent circumstance. Before this, cell phones were routinely being searched incident to arrest and information concerning drug sales, gang affiliation, weapons, child porn and other information that could incriminate individuals being arrested was found. Cell phones today hold an incredible amount of information concerning an individual.
If you have a criminal case, it is important to contact an attorney right away at least a realistic appraisal of your case and an understanding of how your case will proceed. A criminal Defense Attorney will also give you an idea of things that may be able to be done to defend your case and/or at least minimize the consequences and charges. The Christoph Law Offices, with Defense Attorneys Nicholas and William Christoph, offer a free initial consultation by calling 760-941-5720. Located across from Vista Courts for over 34 years, they have the experience and insights to help you achieve the best possible result in your case.
, 134 SC 2473 (2014)