HOUSTON, TX – Okay, let’s say you get pulled over, cops think something’s up and decide to search your car. Obviously, what ever is inside the car or on your person, is fair game for officers. Does your cell phone fall into that category though?
The Supreme Court is about to begin debating just how much privacy your cell phone deserves. Arguments begin this week to see whether or not cops need a warrant to search the cell phone of someone who’s under arrest, looking at two specific cases in which suspects are appealing their convictions.
Supporters say cell-searches are no different than looking through the wallet of a suspect in custody and police have the right to look through a person’s phone. Let’s be honest, though. Chances are people don’t have the same “personal” things in their wallet as they have on their cell phones.
Critics say this type of search is a violation of the fourth amendment (that’s the one that protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures.)
So, we asked Derek Hollingsworth, an Attorney at the Rusty Hardin Law Firm, to get a take on the cell-searching-situation. Hollingsworth says, “The issue here is whether or not the cell phone falls into that protection of the fourth amendment or whether or not its more of an exception.”
Hollingsworth says there are several exceptions under the 4th amendment that would allow police to search a person’s body (or things that are on a person’s body) without a warrant. So now, according to Hollingsworth, the question becomes, “Is a cell phone one of these things that can be searched without a warrant?”
A ruling is expected in June.
Until then, you should know that if you end up in police custody, searching your cell phone could result in a different type of cell-search.