Just a couple of days ago the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided two cases that begin to address police conducted searches of smart phones without a warrant. The two cases stand for the proposition that where an individual is lawfully arrested, and a cell phone is seized pursuant to that lawful arrest, and where an officer performs a limited search of the phone’s recent call history for evidence directly relating to the crime for which the individual was arrested, the search will be upheld.
The cases involved individuals being arrested based on probable cause to believe they were distributing narcotics. Pursuant to a search incident to those arrests, cell phones were discovered within the possession of the defendants. Based on the probable cause, the police searched the recent call lists for further evidence pertaining to the narcotics distribution trade, as cell phones are instruments of such trade.
The Court left for another day, however, whether their assessment would be the same on different facts, or in relation to a different type of intrusion into a more complex cellular telephone or other information storage device. With these questions unanswered, if you or someone you know is charged with a criminal offense, contact a criminal justice attorney who will fight for you by clicking the link below: