The ruling came on Wednesday following Riley vs. California where information gained from a smart phone provided evidence of drug activity.
Privacy laws have come under scrutiny since the evolution of the digital age. This ruling insists that smart phones now encompass every detail of one's life, which is still protected by privacy laws and the fourth amendment. The fact that a search of one's cellphone could now bring out bank records, mail, videos, photos and personal entries argues that smart phones are an entity of the individual's privacy.
Opponents of the ruling argue that criminals often conduct most of their communications and business through their smart phones which may be needed as evidence. Requiring a search warrant would risk the individual deleting incriminating evidence before police have a chance to review it.
In an announcement of the Riley v. California ruling, released on its website, the
Public Safety Chief
The ruling will start immediately and Dekmar said the department is in the process of modifying its policy.
"It's not that remarkable of a decision," he said. "We've been obtaining warrants for computers and phones for a long time now and this just changes the point in which we obtain a warrant."
He added that it has been the courts' policy to always ask for search warrant regarding cellphones.
Skandalakis said cellphones have proven to be useful tools of evidence, especially in drug or gang cases, though there is not a substantial number of cases relying solely on information obtained from cellphones.
Though the ruling requires officers get a search warrant before looking into someones' cellphone, it does outline exigent circumstances, as with all search warrants. Skandalakis said these circumstances could be something such as an immediate danger to one's life or a missing person's case. In these situations, police may bypass the search warrant for an immediate need.
Police can also bypass the search warrant if consent to search is given by the individual Skandalakis said.
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