Cops Can No Longer Search Your Phone

  • metta

    Posts: 39104

    Jun 25, 2014 10:01 PM GMT
    Cops Can No Longer Search Your Phone

    "The U.S. Supreme Court, in weighing a Southern California case, said that's no longer true: Search warrants are necessary except in exigent emergencies."

    http://www.laweekly.com/informer/2014/06/25/cops-can-no-longer-search-your-phone
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    Jun 25, 2014 10:34 PM GMT
    While I agree with the principle of this judgment, I wonder how it will affect evidence that a driver has been using their mobile (cell) phone while driving. Checking the call history has always been a quick and easy way for the police at the scene to prove a driver was on the phone, where the driver has disputed this. I doubt the police will bother going through the hassle of getting a warrant to prove a motoring misdemeanor (if indeed they can), so this decision could end up making the roads a little less safe.
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    Jun 25, 2014 11:21 PM GMT
    Ex_Mil8 saidWhile I agree with the principle of this judgment, I wonder how it will affect evidence that a driver has been using their mobile (cell) phone while driving. Checking the call history has always been a quick and easy way for the police at the scene to prove a driver was on the phone, where the driver has disputed this. I doubt the police will bother going through the hassle of getting a warrant to prove a motoring misdemeanor (if indeed they can), so this decision could end up making the roads a little less safe.

    I see nothing in this ruling that would prevent police from seizing mobile devices as evidence following an accident, and asking a court for permission to check the cellular usage history at the time of the accident. An extra step, but still available to police and prosecutors.
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    Jun 26, 2014 12:58 AM GMT
    woodsmen saidThe NYT said that the justices ruled this way because they have cell phones too.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/opinion/linda-greenhouse-the-supreme-court-justices-have-cellphones-too.html

    What the unanimous opinion actually said was that almost everyone has cell phones these days. So that the proverbial visitor from Mars would think that a cell phone is an anatomical appendage. Do read the opinion.
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    Jun 26, 2014 1:27 AM GMT
    Oh, I'm sure they will find ways around it.
  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11406

    Jun 26, 2014 2:47 AM GMT
    If you are in holding or cuffed, you don't get to keep your phone with you ... no big deal ... they have something like 36 hours before they have to release you without charging you ... plenty of time to get a warrant. icon_rolleyes.gif

    What it does it prevent then from pulling you over with out any cause and illegally searching what is private property.
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    Jun 26, 2014 3:01 AM GMT
    xrichx saidOh, I'm sure they will find ways around it.

    I agree. Everything will be declared an "exigent emergency" to meet the court criteria. Net result: no change in police operations. Your cell phone will still be searched.
  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11406

    Jun 26, 2014 3:15 AM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    xrichx saidOh, I'm sure they will find ways around it.

    I agree. Everything will be declared an "exigent emergency" to meet the court criteria. Net result: no change in police operations. Your cell phone will still be searched.

    They're not going to get far if they don't know the password, of course they could always just jack it into a computer and pull the files off of it
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    Jun 26, 2014 3:17 AM GMT
    AMoonHawk said
    What it does it prevent then from pulling you over with out any cause and illegally searching what is private property.

    Actually I don't think this ruling really touches on arbitrary pull overs and stops. Those will continue. If you have the wrong skin color, or you just look "suspicious" the police can still pull you over, even if you've committed no offense.

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    Jun 26, 2014 3:29 AM GMT
    AMoonHawk said
    Art_Deco said
    xrichx saidOh, I'm sure they will find ways around it.

    I agree. Everything will be declared an "exigent emergency" to meet the court criteria. Net result: no change in police operations. Your cell phone will still be searched.

    They're not going to get far if they don't know the password, of course they could always just jack it into a computer and pull the files off of it

    Not everyone has password protection, a hassle in daily use. My iPhone 5s uses fingerprint recognition. But also uses a passcode. If I failed to give the police that code I would likely be charged with another crime, of withholding evidence or something similar.

    This SCOTUS ruling is meaningless in the real world. Your mobile device will still be searched, and your only recourse will be to challenge in court what was revealed after your device already has been searched. I can absolutely promise your cell phones will continue to be searched by the police, despite this SCOTUS ruling. Every situation will be deemed an "exigent emergency" to meet the criteria the court has established.
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    Jun 26, 2014 7:30 AM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    Ex_Mil8 saidWhile I agree with the principle of this judgment, I wonder how it will affect evidence that a driver has been using their mobile (cell) phone while driving. Checking the call history has always been a quick and easy way for the police at the scene to prove a driver was on the phone, where the driver has disputed this. I doubt the police will bother going through the hassle of getting a warrant to prove a motoring misdemeanor (if indeed they can), so this decision could end up making the roads a little less safe.

    I see nothing in this ruling that would prevent police from seizing mobile devices as evidence following an accident, and asking a court for permission to check the cellular usage history at the time of the accident. An extra step, but still available to police and prosecutors.


    That's good, but I was thinking more about a simple 'driving while using a cell phone' stop, rather than an accident. In any case, having thought about it, I believe very often the police ask the driver to show them their call history voluntarily and most people comply.
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    Jun 26, 2014 5:25 PM GMT
    Determinate said" Checking the call history has always been a quick and easy way for the police at the scene to prove a driver was on the phone, where the driver has disputed this."

    A driver is unlikely to admit using his phone and thus becoming negligent enough to cause an accident.


    I may have phrased that poorly. I meant the scene of a police stop, not the scene of an accident. When the police stop a driver for using a cell phone while driving (i.e. a 'moving violation'), the driver will often dispute that he/she was on the phone (or will make some excuse, such as, "I was scratching my ear with the phone, but I was not in a call."). If, however, a check of their call history shows they were making or receiving a call just before they were stopped, that is pretty conclusive evidence they were on the phone.