tulsa-criminal-defense-attorney-jeff-krigelToday, a rare unanimous decision in Riley v. California.  The United States Supreme Court, a court that is generally evenly divided on most issues,  determined that police now need a search warrant in order to search the contents of an individual’s cellular phone.  This is a great victory for the personal privacy rights of individuals.  In the past, Police Departments around the country have been apt to rifle through the contents of an individual’s personal phone to find easy evidence of criminal conduct, but no more!  This ruling does not prevent the police from ever searching one’s phone, but requires that the police have to go through the processes of obtaining a warrant from a judge before doing so. Previously, warrantless searches were permitted for officer safety and to prevent the destruction of evidence.  However, it appears the Court did not feel that these justifications applied in this case and additionally, cell phones contain information of an extremely private nature.

The New York Times reports in the article found here. According to the article, the Supreme Court unanimously  ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. The decision is a monumental move towards the protection of privacy rights in our “digital age”. 

According to Chief Justice Roberts Jr. the old ruling  can no longer apply to our times due to the vast integration of daily cell phone use in our lives. He states, “the old rules, Chief cannot be applied to modern cellphones, which 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.”
Roberts  Jr. elaborates that courts allowed warrantless searches justified by the notion that police officers need to protect themselves and avoid the destruction of evidence. The ruling however, found that these justifications where not applicable to cellphones. Chief Justice Roberts states “neither justification made much sense in the context of cellphones. On the other side of the balance, is the data contained on the typical cellphone. Ninety percent of Americans have them, he wrote, and they contain “a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives — from the mundane to the intimate.”
The ruling provides a safety net between those in danger of being incriminated by their cell phones but it wont stop the use of cell phones as evidence. According to total lawyers states such as New Jersey “have police officers undergo rigorous training sessions to learn how to extract information from the hard drive of cell phones”. Furthermore, even when people decide to destroy evidence “sources suggest that ordinary cell phone users don’t realize how much information investigators can glean from cell phones-even messages and photos that have been deleted are stored on a phone’s hard drive”.
The reality is that the cell phone has become an extension of the ordinary person and while officers can no longer outright search them it doesn’t absolve the potential for evidence to be used against someone. Case in point use your phone for lawful purposes and know your rights.
Tulsa Criminal DefenseJeff Krigel is a Tulsa criminal attorney, and the managing attorney of The Jeff Krigel Law Firm, is a full-service Oklahoma law firm dedicated to achieving your legal goals in a competent, trusting, and result oriented manner. The firm is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and handles criminal defense, as well as other legal matters in all Oklahoma Counties. If you have been accused of a crime (charged with a DUI in Tulsa, or another crime) or injured in an accident, it is important to seek the help of a qualified attorney. Whether you are seeking help from a Tulsa Criminal Defense Lawyer, or have another legal matter, we offer free consultations and have payment plans available. There is no reason not speak with someone regarding your case. Give us a call today for an honest legal opinion regarding your criminal law matter. If you have been injured in an accident, we handle cases on a contingency fee basis: if we don’t recover money for you, we do not receive an attorney’s fee.