The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Riley v. California on June 25, 2014, that the police need a search warrant to search your cell phone when they arrest you. This is important to note that the ruling will also most likely cover tablets and laptop computers as well. Justice Roberts noted that cellphones are a major part of our lives and contain private information that are part of our human existence.
Constitutional Protections Over Privacy
The Court argued that in this digital and technological age, cell phones carry a lot of private information about us that should be part of our constitutional protections that our founders fought for on our behalf. While police may still examine the cell phone at the time of your arrest to make sure that it does not contain anything that may be used as a weapon, remove a battery or turn off the phone, the information contained in the phone is off limits without a prior warrant and cannot be used against you to link you to a crime.
This decision could impact arrests of people for suspected criminal activity now that police can no longer rely on linking criminal activity of someone they arrest to their cell phone activity without obtaining a prior warrant. Police will need to establish other evidence against a criminal suspect.
Court Protection of Privacy
It is important to note that the courts are recognizing the importance of protecting our privacy in this technological age. The Supreme Court decision adds to list of privacy protections guaranteed to us under the Constitution. The Supreme Court ruling on GPs tracking is also another one of those protections that is added to the list of technology privacy The police also may not place a tracking device on your vehicle unless they have obtained a prior warrant to do so.