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Searching Cell Phones without a Warrant

CAN THE POLICE SEARCH A CELL PHONE SEIZED DURING AN ARREST, WITHOUT A WARRANT?

The United State Supreme Court has granted certiorari in two cases that hopes to resolve whether or not the police, after an arrest, without a warrant, can examine the cell phone and search through it looking for any evidence ?

Previously, the California Supreme Court answered this question by saying that the police can do so. In People v. Diaz (2011) 51 Cal.4th 84, a deputy sheriff looked at the cell phone's text message folder and found a message saying, "6 4 80." The sheriff claimed that this meant six pills of Ecstasy for $80. The sheriff then showed the message to Diaz, who then admitted the sale.

However, a Federal Court of Appeal in the First Circuit ruled in another manner. In United States v. Wurie (2013) 728 F.3d 1, the court said, "This case requires us to decide whether the police, after seizing a cell phone from an individual's person as part of his lawful arrest, can search the phone's data without a warrant. We conclude that such a search exceeds the boundaries of the Fourth Amendment search-incident-to-arrest exception."

The United State Supreme Court has granted review in both of the cases. The court has asked the "[w]hether evidence admitted at petitioner's trial was obtained in a search of petitioner's cell phone that violated petitioner's Fourth Amendment rights.