May 05, 2016 Top Story

Warrantless Search of Cell Phone Violates Fourth AmendmentNew

Police may replicate private search of phone but can go no further without a warrant

Robert T. Denny

Law enforcement violated the Fourth Amendment when their warrantless search of a lost cell phone exceeded the scope of an earlier conducted private search, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in United States v. Johnson.In Johnson, the appellate court held that although a private party already searched the phone, the search was illegal because law enforcement viewed more files than the private searcher. Leaders of the ABA Section of Litigation advise that any warrantless reconstruction of a private search should be carefully scrutinized for possible Fourth Amendment violations.

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now