Skubiak & Rivas P.A., Attorneys Warn Against Illegal Cell Phone Searches by Police Following U.S. Supreme Court Ruling
Orlando, FL (PRWEB) July 28, 2014 The U.S. Supreme Court recently reached a unanimous ruling that police can no longer search cellular phones carried by people under arrest without first obtaining a warrant from a judge.*
“This decision has a significant impact on privacy rights for citizens since random searches for evidence of criminal content is no longer permitted,” said Brandon Gans,. It supports the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides the following protection:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
“This amendment was largely influenced by the British soldiers who rummaged through colonists homes searching for evidence of criminal activity,” said Brandon Gans. “However, the drafters of the Bill of Rights could never have conceived of mobile electronic devices that can upload and store large quantities of data such as documents, photos and audio recordings. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision applies the protections against unreasonable searches and seizures of the Fourth Amended to the ever changing and technology driven world in which we all live, he said.
When police seize a cell phone, it is usually the result of a search of a house, vehicle or person. Assuming the police had a legal basis for the initial search, a seizure of a person’s cell phone will likely be deemed lawful. The problem arises when the police search the contents of that device without first obtaining a warrant. Unlike drugs or weapons, it is not immediately apparent from looking at a cell phone whether it contains contraband. The police must convince a judge that they have probable cause to believe the device contains evidence of criminal conduct. Only then may a warrant be issued.
Traditionally, police have been able to elude the warrant requirement if they can articulate an exception. These exemptions include exigent circumstances, search incident to arrest, consent, inventory search, and imminent destruction of evidence to name a few. Police often justify a search of an item if it has the potential to be used as a weapon. Under the new ruling, they may still make an initial determination of whether the mobile device is threatening, but they may not perform a search of its contents.
“People generally accept a diminished expectation of privacy when they leave their homes and enter the world. However, nobody expects that their cell phones will be searched without their consent. These devices often contain sensitive personal and private information. The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision is significant in protecting that information from illegal and unauthorized searches by police,” said Brandon Gans.
If police do search a cell phone without a warrant, the remedy may be exclusion of evidence in court. Under the exclusionary rule, evidence that is illegally obtained by government officials may be deemed inadmissible in court and cannot be used to prove the charges.
If your mobile phone or person device is searched, Skubiak & Rivas P.A., suggests calling your attorney immediately.
For more information or a free consultation, visit https://trafficlawfirm.com or call (407) 894-4449.
About Skubiak & Rivas, P.A.
With offices in Orlando and Kissimmee FL, Skubiak & Rivas, P.A. serves Central Florida's criminal and traffic law defense firms. Founded by attorney Robert P. Skubiak in 1993, and partnering with attorney Alain Rivas in 1999, the practice represents clients involved in automotive and traffic-related infractions. Areas of focus include speeding tickets, red light cameras, auto accidents, reckless driving infractions, DUI charges, drug charges, tourist defense, habitual traffic offenders, suspended licenses, leaving the scene of an accident and more. For additional information, visit https://trafficlawfirm.com.
Partner Robert P. Skubiak founder and senior partner of Skubiak & Rivas, P.A., attorney
Skubiak graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Economics in 1989 and graduated University of Florida in 1992 with a degree in Law. In 1993 Skubiak opened his own law office in Orlando to provide clients with traffic and criminal defense.
Partner Alain Rivas graduated from Rollins College with a B.A. in Political Science and History in 1992 and graduated from Stetson College of Law in 1994. Rivas worked for the Hillsborough County Attorneys Office and as legal Counsel for Joelo Inc., Attorney Rivas has extensive experience with criminal and traffic defense and has a passion for excellent service and excels with representing all of his clients.
Attorney Brandon Gans graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice and a minor in Psychology. While attending FSU, he served as President of the FSU chapter of the National Criminal Justice Honor Society. Mr. Gans served as a prosecutor for the State of Florida for three years. He served in Lake County for a year and a half before transferring to Orange County.