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+ - Police Can Search Cell Phones Without Warrant

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Hugh Pickens
Hugh Pickens writes "The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the California Supreme Court has ruled 5 to 2 to allow police to search arrestees' cell phones without a warrant, saying defendants lose their privacy rights for any items they're carrying when taken into custody. Under US Supreme Court precedents, "this loss of privacy allows police not only to seize anything of importance they find on the arrestee's body ... but also to open and examine what they find," the state court said. The dissenting justices said those rulings shouldn't be extended to modern cell phones that can store huge amounts of data and that the decision allows police "to rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or handheld computer merely because the device was taken from an arrestee's person." Interestingly enough the Ohio Supreme Court reached an opposite conclusion in a December 2009 ruling that police had violated drug defendants' rights by searching their cell phones after their arrests. The Ohio-California split could prompt the US Supreme Court to take up the issue, says California Deputy Attorney General Victoria Wilson, who represented the prosecution in the case. "This has an impact on the day-to-day jobs of police officers, what kind of searches they can conduct without a warrant when they arrest someone," says Wilson. "It takes it into the realm of new technology.""
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Police Can Search Cell Phones Without Warrant

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