The Supreme Court revealed today it will decide on whether law enforcement can legally search — without a warrant — the cell phone of someone they’ve arrested. This follows many cases that involve such searches, not to mention some state laws that have been put in place. Though a hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled, they’ve accepted two cases that will be reviewed.
One’s cell phone, particularly if it is of the smartphone variety, is likely to not only contain locally-stored data, but also be linked to one or more online accounts — email, social networks, etc. — that provide access to additional information. Contact lists, text messages, and even images can all serve to incriminate someone who has been arrested, such as in the cases of Brima Wurie and David Riley.
The Supreme Court will be hearing both of those cases, with the first concerning the search of Brima Wurie’s cell phone after his arrest, sans warrant. Wurie was arrested on the suspicion of selling drugs, and the search of his cell phone lead to the tracking down of his home address, where guns, drugs, and other evidence was discovered.
In the second case, David Riley was pulled over on allegations of expired tags, and was eventually arrested for driving on a suspended license. Among other things, the arresting officers found a cell phone on his person during a search and proceeded to look through it without a warrant, with a second search taking place later on at the police station. Using this information, they tied him to a drive-by shooting and, ultimately, lead to a conviction.
In both cases, appeals were made to the Supreme Court.