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    The Supreme Court on cell phones: “Privacy comes at a cost”

    Date: 06.30.14 | by Judge Tom.

    On June 25, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases regarding cell phones and criminals. Essentially, they recognized the universal use of cell phones and the amount of information contained therein. The Court wrote that cell phones are “such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.”

    Texting privacy

    Photo by Tammy McGary

    The cases involved searching cell phones of arrestees without first obtaining a search warrant. The Court concluded that generally a search warrant must be obtained before searching through someone’s cell phone. In the rare case, circumstances may exist that would support a warrantless search. For the most part, however, neither officer safety or destruction of evidence, is an issue when the phone is taken from the suspect. Police can examine the physical aspects of a phone to ensure that it will not be used as a weapon. This ruling does not eliminate searches – it only states that a warrant is needed first.

    “Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet or a purse,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the nine-to-zero Court. “We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime. Privacy comes at a cost.”


    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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