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Supreme Court rules police need a warrant to search cell phones

This news story was published on June 25, 2014.
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U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON – The US Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Fourth Amendment generally requires the government (police) to obtain a warrant based on a particular suspicion of a specific crime before searching the contents of person’s cell phone.

In the decision, signed by 8 out of the 9 Justices, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. somewhat mocked the incessant overuse of cell phones by the public, saying they “are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy” but nevertheless, the court held that police cannot simply rifle through them after arresting a suspect.

Only in extreme emergencies may an officer look into a person’s cell phone without a warrant. “A suspect texting an accomplice who, it is feared, is preparing to detonate a bomb, or a child abductor who may have information about the child’s location on his cell phone.”


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