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How the recent Supreme Court ruling could affect you

In a prior post, we highlighted the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision regarding the search of cellular phones and electronic tablets. Essentially, police had been conducting unauthorized searches of these devices upon arresting a suspect, and using the information to link them to other, unrelated crimes that were generally much more serious than the crime they were originally arrested for.

In its ruling, the court held that tablets and cell phones were much different than wallets and purses that police could search incident to an arrest because these devices hold so many volumes of information. While the court did not rule on whether the two defendant’s convictions should be overturned, it does have some significance for future defendants who may be arrested.

Essentially, police may be required to obtain a search warrant before going through the device to discover additional information. So what does this mean for you if you are arrested?

Passwords are your friend – While passwords may not prevent unauthorized access to your device forever, they can serve as a temporary barrier that can ensure that the proper steps are taken to ensure that your constitutional rights are respected. This also may mean that authorities would not be able to compel you to reveal your password so that they can access your device.

Constitutional protections apply – Information obtained in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights could be excluded as fruit from a poisonous tree. This could also result in subsequent criminal charges being dropped.

Ultimately, questions surrounding proper searches should be posed to an experienced criminal defense attorney. 

Source: CNN.com “High Court: Police need a warrant to search cell phones,” Bill Mears, June 25, 2014

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