By James Hirsen
Smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices are filled with individuals’ highly personal data including e-mails, photos, contact data, financial and medical information. It is the type of private material that was previously kept in one’s residence; such material was precisely the kind that was contemplated by the drafters of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
However, since technology appears to be outpacing legal reasoning, some courts have rejected the idea that during an arrest, the information contained within a smart phone would require a warrant prior to the search of its contents. The U.S. Supreme Court has not specifically addressed searches of cell phones following an arrest, but a number of courts, including the Federal Courts of the Fourth and Fifth Circuits, have relied upon an exception to the Fourth Amendment, which was created by the High Court and allows police officers to search objects in the possession or reach of an arrested person following an arrest. [more...]