Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney | Supreme Court: Police Need Warrants to Search Cellphones

Portner & Shure Law Firm Serving Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C.

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled unanimously that police, absent exigent circumstances, need a warrant to search a person's cellphone, even in the case of someone placed under arrest.

"Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life,'" Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. "The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple -- get a warrant."

President Barack Obama's administration and prosecutors from states across the country had lobbied the high court in briefs to allow police officers to be able to search arrestees' gadgets--not just mobile phones--without a warrant. The justices declined to do so, saying "privacy comes at a cost."