California Law Requires Cops to Get a Search Warrant for Cell Phones

Until recently, when someone was arrested for any crime, police in California were allowed to search the cell phone of the person arrested. This open search of the arrested person’s cell phone was allowed whether or not the cell phone had anything to do with the reason the person was arrested. The California legislature has now prohibited these type of warrantless searches and police in California can no longer arbitrarily inspect any items on a person’s cell phone.

In addition, the law not only includes cell phones, but also covers any and all ‘portable electronic devices.’ The law specifies that these types of devices include anything that can be used to receive, send, access, or create electronic data or communications of any type. One can conclude that this could cover tablets, laptops, netbooks, or any device that stores data of any type as well.

California Law Requires Cops to Get a Search Warrant for Cell PhonesSome in the California law enforcement community believe that this law could hinder the investigation that police conduct in order to locate and prosecute others who may be involved in criminal activity. I personally do not believe that this is the case at all. The law only requires that a search warrant be obtained and is no different than what is currently required to search a person’s car or home. Requiring police to explain to a judge why any device may contain criminal information protects us all from warrantless search and seizures of any kind.

Our forefathers specified that warrantless searches were not acceptable and spelled this out in the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution. Prior to this, the colonies were subjected to warrantless search and seizures by the English crown. I believe that the California law may one day end up before the US Supreme Court and that the court will uphold the law on constitutional issues and confirm this as the law of the land.

Comments welcome.

CNN: California Bill Would Ban Warrantless Cell Phone Searches

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I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • D Lowrey

    If this law does end up in front of the SCOTUS…it will be overturned. The only reason it would not be is if the five pro-corporate/pro-law enforcement justices were to die or retire. I say this because the Roberts court has continually ruled for law enforcement and corporations over and over.

    On the other hand…when it goes in front of the ninth circuit…it will be upheld…even though you will hear the police cry boo-hoo that their hands are tied. With the mentality that  someplace/somewhere a bad guy is getting away with something the police want to use to make themselves look good. When you consider the police are not there to protect you…but those in power…this comes more into focus where their aim is.