Get a Warrant – if you want to search that cellphone

Last month, the United States Supreme Court established a bright line rule for police officers.   If you want to search a cellphone incident to an arrest – get a warrant.  In Riley v. California, the Court held the police, generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cellphone seized from an individual who has been arrested.  The Court recognized that cellphones differ in both a quantitative and qualitative sense from other objects that might be kept on an arrestee’s person.  Many of these devises are microcomputers, which can store thousands of pictures, videos, and internet history, while allowing you to make a telephone call.  Moreover, much of the information is stored remotely via “cloud computing.”  For these reason, the Court believed the Fourth Amendment requires a warrant before the police are allowed to make such a great physical intrusion into a person’s privacy.  As the Court noted, this decision “will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime.”