Supreme Court Ruling: Search Warrants for Cell Phones


"You know, you talk about bank account records, social media records, email records.  Anything and everything is on somebody's cell phone.  And because it's a search that goes beyond just what's on the person, it needs to require a warrant of some kind to access that information."

-Kyle Ridgeway, Williams, Porter, Day & Neville, LLC

A unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court changes the 4th Amendment to require a search warrant when investigating a suspect's cell phone.

Local attorneys are glad to see the law is keeping up with the ever-changing technology and Casper officials have already been obtaining warrants before searching cell phones anyway.

An officer may request to search your pockets during an investigation, but your cell phone will now remain safe until a search warrant is present.

Kyle Ridgeway, an attorney at Williams, Porter, Day & Neville, LLC says, "you know, you talk about bank account records, social media records, email records. Anything and everything is on somebody's cell phone. And because it's a search that goes beyond just what's on the person, it needs to require a warrant of some kind to access that information."

He says the new law will only impact future cases unless otherwise noted by the supreme court.

"The court opinions generally don't apply retroactively. Unless the Supreme Court specifically says we want to apply this retroactively, which they didn't say in this case."

Lieutenent Thompson of Casper Police department says cell phones have become more and more prominent in criminal cases, and something needed to be done.

"It was obvious there was going to be a means to start examining what we wanted to do as far as getting thart information for those criminal cases."

Thompson adds Casper officials started obtaining cell phone search warrants for criminal cases a few years ago.

"We went ahead and just started doing search warrants for anytime we had cell phones that we deemed to be evidence in any criminal investigations that we were doing."

Casper officials request search warrants on a regular basis too.

"We do it routinely. Regularly it's being done because like i said, in today's age of technology, people utilize their cell phone almost as kind of a databank about themselves."

Lt. Thompson says it's not uncommon for a criminal case to involve a cell phone as part of the collected evidence.

Officials say they weren't surprised by the unanimous supreme court ruling.


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