The US Supreme Court ruled that the police must get a warrant before searching through the contents of someone’s cell phone. The case is Riley v. California. This is great news for Arizonans, and all Americans, who value privacy rights. The Court was unanimous in its decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, and is a sweeping victory for privacy rights.

Roberts noted that the Founding Fathers fought the Revolution in part because of the frustration American colonists felt at the hands of blanket searches by British soldiers without a warrant. He observed that a cell phone has so much personal information, often even more than a house, that allowing police to search it without a warrant would be like allowing them to ransack a person’s home without a warrant.

Roberts wrote, “Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans “the privacies of life.” The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple – get a warrant.”

What this means is when the police stop you on the street, they cannot not seize your phone and look through it without a warrant from a judge. If police ask for your phone, ask them to see their warrant. Even if the police arrest you and take your phone as part of your property, they are not allowed to look through your phone without a warrant. If they do not get a warrant, anything they find will be thrown out of court.

If you or someone you love is facing charges because the police searched a phone without a warrant, give me a call. I am a former prosecutor who now defends your rights and I can help. Call for a free consultation: 602-492-8295.