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SCOTUS Requires Warrant For Cell Phone Search

When a criminal suspect is arrested, officers often search and seize evidence and then justify it by stating it was incident to arrest. This actually oftentimes pasts muster in court. In other words, when the search was conducted after a suspect was legally arrested, courts will often deny a defendant's subsequent motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence.

However, the last year has brought some great cases for the defense regarding searches and the need for a warrant. For example, last year, the Kansas Supreme Court clarified that a warrant must be obtained for blood draws. Just this past summer, the United States Supreme Court clarified the law enforcement generally cannot search the digital information of a cell phone, without first obtaining a search warrant. This is so even if the person was lawfully arrested. Interestingly, the Supree Court was unanimous in it's 9-0 decision of Riley v. California, 2014 U.S. Lexis 4497, 2014 WL 2864483 (June 25, 2014). The Riley case is monumental for criminal defense lawyers, especially in this day and age of technology.

Despite this ruling, many suspects will now just "voluntarily" consent to the search of the property and the evidence found will lead to their conviction. In the alternative, most competent law enforcement will put together an easy to obtain warrant procedure. As a Johnson County, KS criminal defense attorney, I am seeing the regular use of warrants being obtained via emails and simple to fill out forms to judges.