History of Cell Phone Searches

Cell Phone Search Warrant
Search Warrant
Cell Phone
Up until quite recently, there were exceptions to the general requirement that police get a Search Warrant for a cell phone. Cell phones have been a window into suspects’ activities, as police used these exceptions to get their hands on information found inside mobile devices. Obtaining a Search Warrant for a cell phone is not that hard to do. You can review a Search Warrant for a Cell Phone here:  Here is an actual iPhone Search Warrant . GPS or Global Positioning Satellite information found in mobile phones has also been used by police. 
Up until around 2014, police could and did search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who was arrested. Defense Attorneys would frequently challenge such searches. These searches were frequently based upon “helping” arrested citizens by making sure their property was properly inventoried by the arresting officers for safekeeping by jail personnel or by the evidence unit at the arresting agency’s office. This rationale remains a frequent flier in broad invasive “inventory” searches of automobiles during traffic stops.

Cell Phone Search, Search and Seizure, Search Warrant

Cell Phone Search, Search and Seizure, Search Warrant
Warrant Required
Mobile Devices
Florida had outlawed warrantless phone searches before the US Supreme Court. That ruling is discussed here. Now prohibited will be mobile device and cell phone searches without a warrant. Before the 2014 United States Supreme Court ruling here was another Court’s Ruling on a Cell Phone Search. Searches Incident to a lawful arrest were previously justified by cops using issues of police officer safety and prevention of destruction of evidence.
Now under Floridalaw, a Motion to Suppress Evidence can be filed pursuant to Rule 3.190(h), Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. Illegal Search and seizure now applies to cell phones and the Courts may exclude illegally obtained evidence including, photographs, video, text messages, directory and location data, voice mails, and emails.
Case Summary: The US Supreme Court’s ruling is that a properly obtained and issued search warrant is generally required before search of a cell phone. Here is some language from the Court’s ruling. 
“Cell phones differ in both a quantitative and a qualitative sense from other objects that might be kept on an arrestee’s person. The term “cell phone” is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers that also happen to have the capacity to be used as a telephone. They could just as easily be called cameras,video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers.”
“The sum of an individual’s private life can be reconstructed through a thousand photographs labeledwith dates, locations, and descriptions; the same cannot besaid of a photograph or two of loved ones tucked into a wallet.”
“To further complicate the scope of the privacy interests at stake, the data a user views on many modern cell phones may not in fact be stored on the device itself. Treating a cell phone as a container whose contents may be searched incident to an arrest is a bit strained as an initial matter.”
“[T]he search incident to arrest exception does not apply to cell phones . . . .”
Some Excerpts from Florida Cases:
“However, we express great concern in permitting the officer to search appellant’s cell phone here where there was no indication the officer had reason to believe the cell phone contained evidence.”
“We are equally concerned that giving officers unbridled discretion to rummage through at will the entire contents of one’s cell phone, even where there is no basis for believing evidence of the crime of arrest will be found on the phone, creates a serious and recurring threat to the privacy of countless individuals.”

Cell Phone Searches – Supreme Court to Rule on Warrant Requirement

The Supreme Court granted certiorari review in two similar cases, both used with evidence obtained by means of a warrantless search of a cell phone during a lawful arrest.

One friend has said, “Wow, the Supremes are taking a serious look at cell phone searches! There’s been talk for a while now about the problems courts have applying old standard to modern technology.   We may get a sea change in S&S law. Of course, we may not, too, but it’s really worth watching.  If you have a cell phone search case now, for goodness sake make your 4th Am motion and/or objections (track the language in these 2 cases).” Thanks DE for your thoughts on this issue.


In Riley v. California, No. 13-132, a state case, the question presented is: 
Whether evidence admitted at petitioner’s trial was obtained in a search of petitioner’s cell phone violated petitioner’s Fourth Amendment rights. 
In United States v. Wurie,No. 13-212, the Feds appealed, the question presented is: 
Whether the Fourth Amendment permits the police, without obtaining a warrant, to review the call log of a cellphone found on a person who has been lawfully arrested. 
 The cases are Riley v. California, No. 13-132, and United States v. Wurie,No. 13-212.

Search Warrant for Cell Phone Handset – Required Florida Supreme Court Says

Cell Phone Search, iPhone Search Warrant, Search warrant

Search Warrant for Cell Phone Handset –
Required
Florida Supreme Court Says
Search Warrant for Cell Phone Handset Required – Florida Supreme Court Says a police officer is not authorized to search through photographs and information within a cell phone that was on defendant at time of arrest. Cell phone had been separated from defendant at time of search. Factually, images from defendant’s cell phone depicted a weapon that resembled the gun stolen from convenience store, as well as defendant and his fiancee posing with stolen money packaged in manner described by the victim, a convenience store clerk.

Cops in the case properly separated and assumed possession of cell phone from defendantin search incident to arrest. The Florida Supreme Court held a  warrant was required before information, data, and content of cell phone could be accessed and searched by law enforcement.  Notwithstanding decisions of other courts, Conformity clause does not meanFlorida courts must apply U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in United States v. Robinson in this case.

The Florida Court reasoned that  Robinson not factually or legally on point. Then in a stunner, the court found that the Good faith exception to exclusionary rule does not apply, since no bright-line rule exists for law enforcement officers to rely upon with regard to searches of electonic devices under facts of this case. 


Cell Phone Search Incident to Arrest

Cell Phone Warrantless Search

Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney / Lawyer continues to follow recent developments in the search of cellular telephones / cell phones. One Florida court has just ruled in a 33 page opinion that pictures in a cell phone obtained from a suspect who had been arrested were inadmissible at trial since they had been seized during a warrantless search.

The court ruled:
“We are equally concerned that giving officers unbridled discretion to rummage through at will the entire contents of one’s cell phone, even where there is no basis for believing evidence of the crime of arrest will be found on the phone, creates a serious and recurring threat to the privacy of countless individuals. Were we free to do so, we would find, given the advancement of technology with regards to cell phones and other similar portable electronic devices, officers may only search cell phones incident to arrest if it is reasonable to believe evidence relevant to the crime of arrest might be found on the phone. Here, there was no evidence the officer had such a reasonable belief.”

“Modern cell phones can contain as much memory as a personal computer and could conceivably contain the entirety of one’s personal photograph collection, home videos, music library, and reading library, as well as calendars, medical information, banking records, instant messaging, text messages, voicemail, call logs, and GPS history. Cell phones are also capable of accessing the internet and are, therefore, capable of accessing information beyond what is stored on the phone’s physical memory. For example, cell phones may also contain web browsing history, emails from work and personal accounts, and applications for accessing Facebook and other social networking sites. Essentially, cell phones can make the entirety of one’s personal life available for perusing by an officer every time someone is arrested for any offense.”

“However, we express great concern in permitting the officer to search appellant’s cell phone here where there was no indication the officer had reason to believe the cell phone contained evidence.”

Cell Phone Search

Defense Attorney on Cell Phone Search | Evidence Suppressed

Cell Phone Search Suppressed
Criminal Defense Attorney / Lawyer notes a recent Cell Phone Search ruling on a Motion to Suppress Evidence, filed pursuant to Rule 3.190(h), Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. Search and seizure law can apply to cell phones. Lately cops have been searching the phones and calling them a Search incident to arrest. Sometimes cops claim they need to search a phone for the safety of the officer. One court just ruled that a cell phone seized incident to defendant’s arrest posed no risk to officer safety. The scope of a search has been limited, since a cellular telephone is not a container that could hold weapon. Sometimes police justify a search claiming that evidence will be destroyed. A court just ruled that once a phone was seized, there was no longer risk that defendant could destroy evidence in phone. The court concluded that a warrantless search of contents of cell phone was unlawful and a Motion to Suppress was granted.

Cell Phone Search Questions? Call Me Toll Free 1-877-793-9290.

Defense alleged an unlawful search of the Defendant’s cellular telephone including: texts, pictures, the call history, and/or observations made by Officer. Testimony showed cop “found the Defendant’s cell phone while searching his person at the scene, but then later examined the cell phone further at the police station while the Defendant was still being processed. Officer Clark testified that he found text messages regarding the sale of cocaine while he was looking through the Defendant’s phone.”

Court ruled, “When an officer arrests someone who has a cell phone in their possession, here may very well be reason to suspect that the phone contains valuable information, particularly in drug-related arrests. The call logs and address books could help link a defendant to a particular drug transaction and could provide the identities of other persons involved in the illegal activity; however, these are exactly the types of situations where probable cause could be used to obtain a warrant. The reality is that most information stored on a cell phone will remain there long enough for a warrant to be secured and that numbers “lost” from recent call lists are readily obtainable from the service provider. Cell phones are outside the ambit of the search incident to arrest exception‘s reach because of their capacity for storing vast quantities of intimately personal data. If courts continue to allow the unfettered exploration of this personal data, then courts are permitting the government to execute an unwarranted search of the cell phone user’s life and habits. This intrusion cannot reasonably be justified by the rationales of officer safety and evidence preservation; therefore, a simple seizure of the cell phone must suffice until a warrant can be procured.”

The Court’s Ruling on the Cell Phone Search is Here.

Cell Phone Search Questions? Call Me Toll Free 1-877-793-9290.

Source: FLWSUPP 1805GLAS


Criminal Defense Attorney / Lawyer

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