Supreme Court ruling requires a warrant before police can search - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Supreme Court ruling requires a warrant before police can search your cell phone

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JEFFERSON COUNTY - AL -  The Supreme Court says police must have a warrant to search your cell phone. The justices ruled that the devices are not in the same category as wallets, or vehicles. It's a policy that local attorneys say protects your 4th Amendment rights.  

"The Court had to balance the interest of very effective law enforcement and individuals right to privacy," Richard Jaffe, Birmingham attorney said.

The decision says officers can't search your cell phone unless either you give them permission or they get a warrant.  

"The Fourth Amendment was written to protect citizen's privacy and that law enforcement will still operate efficiently, they just need to get a warrant or have probably cause before they can do a search," Jaffe said.

Think about this: how much information is in your cell phone? If it's a smartphone, you likely have bank account information, pictures, emails, messages, and maybe even health information.  

"There is so much personal data on smartphones now days, that people's lives are on smartphones," Detective Michael Mangina, Irondale Police said.

For police....

"It means a little extra paperwork," Mangina said.

Irondale Police Detective, Michael Mangina says the decision to require a search warrant helps eliminate error on a crime scene.  

"So you can get all the details of a case, all the evidence, present it to the court, and ultimately the goal is to get a conviction," Mangina said.

He says for cases like texting while driving all police need to see is you looking at the phone in your hand to write a ticket. But if it's a criminal case...  

"On a cell phone, just like on a computer, we would be looking for photos, documents, we might be looking for text messages, even emails," Mangina said.

The ruling states- officers can still examine the phone - to make sure it's not a weapon disguised as a phone.

Here is a link to the full ruling: 

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-132_8l9c.pdf
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