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This content was written for Cale Law Office
If you’ve been arrested, call a lawyer who likes to fight. Call Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale at 918-277-4800 and schedule your free initial consultation. Atty. Stephen Cale will meet with you and develop a defense strategy plan that you can take with you.
One of the first things that attorney Stephen Cale likes to do is challenge a police officer search. The US Supreme Court has recently rendered a decision concerning a search of cell phones without a warrant. “This is a huge decision that is a big blow to government intrusion into the lives of citizens,” said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale.
The case is called Riley vs. California. Police stopped Riley for traffic violation, which eventually led to his arrest on weapons charges. The officer searched Riley and sees a cell phone from his pants pocket. The officer accessed information on the phone and noticed the repeated use of the term associated with the street gang. While at the police station two hours later, the detective specializing in gangs also examine the phones contents. Based in part on photographs and videos that the detective found, the state charged Riley in connection with the shooting that occurred a few weeks earlier and sought enhance sentence based on Riley’s gang affiliation.
Riley moved to suppress all the evidence that the police obtained from his cell phone. The trial court denied the motion and Riley was convicted. The California court of appeals affirmed.
The US Supreme Court held that the police generally may not, without a warrant, search information on a cell phone that has been seized from a person who has been arrested. A warrantless search is reasonable only if it falls within a specific exception to the fourth amendment’s requirement of a search warrant. The well-established exception at issue here applies when a warrantless search is conducted incident to a lawful arrest.
Three related precedents govern the extent to which officers may search property found on or near an arrestee. A search incident to arrest must be limited to the area within the arrestee’s media control and must be justified by the interests of officer safety and in preventing the destruction of evidence. The US Supreme Court has held that the risks identified in Chimel vs. California are present in all custodial arrests even when there is no specific concern about the loss of evidence or threat to officers in particular case. Lastly, Arizona vs. Gant permit searches of a car where the arrestee is unsecured and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment, or what is reasonable to plea the evidence of the crime of arrest might be found in the vehicle.
The US Supreme Court declined to extend the categorical rule to searches of data stored on cell phones. The more precise guidance from the founding era, the court generally determines whether to exempt a given type of search from the warrant requirement by assessing, on the one hand, the degree to which intrudes upon an individual’s privacy and on the other hand, the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests. However, a search of digital information on a cell phone does not further the government’s interest identified in general, and implicates substantially greater individual privacy interest than a brief physical search, said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale.
Digital data stored on a cell phone cannot itself be used as a weapon to harm in arresting officer or to effectuate arrestee’s escape. Officers may examine the phones physical aspects to ensure that it will not be used as a weapon, but the data on the phone is not a threat to anyone. To the extent that a certain cell phone data might warn officers of an impending danger, that concern is better just or consideration of case-specific exceptions to the warrant requirement such as exigent circumstances.
On appeal, the government raise concerns about the destruction of evidence. It argued that even if a cell phone is physically secure, informational a cell phone remains formal to the remote wiping and data encryption. At the onset, those concerns are distinct from channels focus on the defendant in response to arrest by trying to conceal or destroy evidence within his reach. The elements briefcase little indication that he the problem is prevalent or that the opportunity to perform such a search incident to arrest would be an effective solution. Also, as to remote wiping, law enforcement currently has some technologies have its own for combating the loss of evidence. Lastly, law enforcement’s remaining concerns in a particular case might be addressed by responding in a targeted manner to urgent threats of remote wiping. Law enforcement can also take action to disable a phones locking mechanism in order to secure the scene.
To say that inspecting the contents of an arrestee’s pockets works no substantial additional intrusion on privacy beyond the arrest itself may make sense as applied to physical items. However more substantial privacy and research take what additional data is involved, said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale.
Cell phones differ from other objects that might be carried on an arrestee’s person. For example, modern cell phone sediment storage capacity. Before cell phones, search of the person was limited realities and generally constituted only a narrow intrusion on privacy. The cell phones can store millions of pages of text, thousands of pictures, or hundreds of videos. This has several interrelated privacy consequences. First, cell phone collects many distinct types of information that reveal much more than any ice led record. Secondly, the four phones capacity allows even just one type of information to convey far more than princely possible. Thirdly, data on the cell phone the back for years.
Decades ago an officer might have occasionally stumbled upon a personal item such as a diary. Today many adults who carry their own cell phone keep a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives. Scope of the privacy interests at stake is further complicated by the fact that the data viewed on many cell phones may in fact be stored on a remote server. Therefore, a search may extend well beyond papers and effects in the physical proximity of an arrestee.|