SUPREME COURT CASE: RILEY v. CALIFORNIA
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether the Fourth Amendment allows police to search a person’s cell phone without a warrant after he or she is arrested. This case is important because modern cell phones contain a wealth of personal information that is discussed below. The case is Riley v. California.
This is a common issue in drug trafficking offenses where police arrest an individual for a drug trafficking offense (i.e., dealing cocaine, heroin, or meth). Police then search the arrested person’s cell phone to determine who he or she was communicating with during the drug transaction.
However, today, most cellphones contain enormous amounts of information including private email communications, Facebook and social media posts, and medial or other personal information. Also, what if you are arrested for driving without a seat-belt? Can police search your phone under these circumstances. This is a concern the Court was struggling with yesterday at oral arguments.
Scotusblog contains a discussion on this case. Click here to read the issues in plain English. Also, the Re’s Judicata blog has an interesting post on how the Supreme Court conflated the authority to search with the authority to seize. It’ a bit wonky–but interesting nonetheless.
Genaro R. Cortez