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Published: 28-09-2019

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The case of David Leon Riley, Petitioner v. California

This was a consolidated case of David Leon Riley, Petitioner v. California United States, Petitioner v. Brima Wurie, pertaining equivalent problems of warrantless cell phone searches incident to arrest. In the first case, the petitioner David Leon Riley had been stopped by police officers for a targeted traffic violation. The police searched Riley’s incident to an arrest and seized a smartphone from his pocket. At the very same .time, even though carrying an inventory search of the automobile, they discovered two handguns below the vehicle’s hood, as a result prompting his arrest. Whilst below their custody, the police went forth to carry a search on the information stored Riley’s phone without a warrant. The search yielded details that linked Riley’s membership to the Lincoln Park gang, and evidence that positively linked him to a gang shooting that was still beneath investigation. The evidence was utilized in both the 1st trial and on retrial, eventually resulting to Riley getting convicted and the California Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment.

The second consolidated case involved Brima Wurie (defendant) whose cell phone had been seized by police from his particular person incident to an arrest of an apparent drug sale. Following arriving to the police station, his telephone began to acquire from a number of calls indicated as “my house” as identified from the phone’s external screen. The police went ahead to access its contact log, traced the quantity displayed as “my house” to what they suspected to have been Wurie’s apartment. Following securing a search warrant for the home their search resulted to a catch of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, 215 grams of crack cocaine, a firearm, ammunition and cash. Wurie later filed a case to suppress the proof gotten from his apartment owing to the truth that it had resulted from a warrantless search on his phone. Nevertheless, the district court had denied the motion, and Wurie was convicted. On further appeal, the 1st Circuit reversed the denial of the motion, subsequently vacating the relevant convictions.

There are two problems in this case, were the proof admitted at trial from Riley’s cell phone acquired through a search that violated his Fourth Amendment appropriate? Are warrantless cell telephone searches to arrest lawful or not?

Holding: Without having a warrant, the police may not search digital data on a portable device seized from an individual who has been arrested, whether at the point of arrest or in an additional location.

A warrantless search is only affordable if it is inside the specified exception to the Fourth Amendment’s needs of a warrant. The particular exception covers the applicability of warrantless search performed incident to a lawful arrest.

In this case, such a warrant is only justified by officers’ security interests or while searching for to prevent potential proof destruction. Information on a suspect’s cell phone can not physically harm an officer.

Warrantless search of cell phones implicates substantial greater danger of intruding upon an individual’s privacy. In this case, digital information is involved, more substantial privacy interest of an individual are at stake. Further owing to the nature in which digital information is stored, search of evidence on cell phones may extend beyond the physical proximity of an arrestee, as a result the want for police officers to obtain a search warrant.

In a unanimous selection delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court held that police call for warrants to search individual’s cell phones even if it was an incident to a lawful arrest. It was held that warrantless search can only applied following distinct exceptions which are for the objective of guarding officer safety and preserving evidence or protecting it from becoming destroyed. It followed the judges argument that digital data discovered on cell phones cannot be employed as a weapon to physically harm an officer carrying out the arrest. The court also characterized cell phones as microcomputers that are used to store huge private details, therefore presenting a case where an arrestee’ appropriate of privacy may well be violated. Even so, the court also held that some warrantless searches may well be permitted in case of emergency exactly where government’s interests are compelling, therefore making a search affordable.

Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr presented a concurring opinion exactly where he concurred in component and in judgment. His opinion was in agreement with the Supreme Court’s selection that law enforcement officers ought to get a search warrant before browsing and getting data from an arrestee’s phone. He argued that the rule employed in the predigital era that seemingly supported warrantless search primarily based on the tips of officer safety and the preservation of proof, should not be applied in today’s digital era. According to Justice Alito, warrantless searches on cell phones would violate on an individual’s privacy interests. He further observed that law enforcement officers need clear rules on searches incident to arrest. He recommended the require for the legislature to enact laws that will clearly say as to when a cell phone can be searched following an arrest.

I am of the opinion that the Supreme Court made the right choice on this case. No none must be above the law, and a suspect or arrestee must not be treated like a guilty particular person. As such, police officers ought to follow the law and obtain a search warrant for cell phone searches unless it there is threat to their safety or possibility of proof destruction.
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