Smart Phones, Police, and Warrants
A very common questions nowadays: What happens to your property once you are arrested? Before smart phones were invented, the police were legally entitled to take the arrestee’s cell phone as evidence in determining their involvement in additional criminal activity than what is already apparent at the time of the arrest. For instance, if the police arrest someone because of their alleged involvement with drug possessions, they could acquire additional and incriminating evidence (text messages, phone calls) regarding the case. The police would benefit from the information provided in the cell phone, which in likely cases, would lead to much harsher penalties for the crime. In the end, instead of just drug possession, this person could now be charged with drug possession, transportation, and sale of the drugs based on text message and phone call evidence taken by the police at the time of the arrest.However, over the last few years, many United States courts have determined and acknowledged that modern smart phones are more like a computer in that they contain very, very personal information. This is where your privacy rights are factored into this type of case: when your personal information is affected. In fact, on June 24th, 2015 in Riley v. California, it was a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that the police must obtain a warrant in order to acquire your phone as evidence in a case against you. This means that if the police take your phone as evidence against you without a warrant, your 4th amendment rights are in fact, violated.