SCOTUS rules police must have warrant to search cell phone

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- Police must have a search warrant before going through the cell phone or electronic device of someone placed under arrest, according to a ruling by The Supreme Court.

The 8-1 decision ruled against the Obama administration that argued cell phones should be searched like anything else on a person who's arrested.

District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington said this ruling will have very little impact on local police.

"Our officers have already been trained for the last several years that if you get a cell phone, we go and get a warrant from the judge before we examine that cell phone," Ellington said.

Prior to this ruling, police could search anything on a person when they made an arrest, but now there are certain limitations to what police can inspect during an arrest.

"They can't look at the calls made, the calls received, texts sent or texts received, any other data or photos contained in a telephone."

Ellington said there is always a threat of someone wiping a phone clean before police can search the device.

"We might lose evidence of criminal wrongdoing that we could get immediately," he said

Chief Justice John Roberts said searches of digital devices for information are not comparable to searches officers conduct for illegal items.

"Ten years ago who knew that a cell phone would have everything on it that it has on it now," Ellington said. "We have a great expectation of privacy with our cell phones."

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