The Ohio State Supreme Court ruled this past week that the police cannot go into the cellular phone of a citizen without a search warrant. In a case that delves into the expectation of privacy meets technology, the court has come through with a decision that works to protect the rights of people.
The case originated in 2007 when police went into the phone of a suspected drug dealer to verify his contact with an informant. They did this without a warrant and it was ruled to be an unconstitutional search.
The Constitution of the United States protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures in the 4th Amendment. While many people think of this only applying to homes and vehicles, a search involves access to anything, whether visual or tactile, that is personal property and in which there is an “expectation of privacy”.
Looking at the contents of your cell phone, feeling in your pockets, examining the contents of your glovebox, and peering inside your purse all constitute searches. The property taken from these searches is referred to as the “seizure”. So, if evidence is introduced against you at trial, it must be from a legal search and seizure to be admissible.
The high court’s decision indicates there is a high expectation of privacy when it comes to the contents of a cell phone. And that, even when an arrest takes place, there is no imminent danger present that would warrant an immediate search of the phone.
Because the phone is safe once in police custody, there is no reason that the police cannot obtain a warrant to gain access.
Rulings involving searches and seizures are of high importance in the criminal courts. Many criminal cases hinge on evidence discovered in a search. Whether or not the search was legal is crucial in the outcome of the case overall.
Contact us today to discuss your case and the evidence that has been collected. We can examine the arrest, searches, and seizures to ensure your rights were protected from the second you got wrapped up in the legal system.