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Search Incident To Arrest Cell Phone Dilemma

1173 words - 5 pages

The Supreme Court has stepped up to answer the question if search incident to arrest on cell phones is violating an individual right. The lower courts are split in the decision. The two cases that are been debated by the Supreme Court is Riley vs. California and Wurie vs. United States. In Riley vs. California, it involved David Riley who was pulled over for having expired tags and driving with suspended license, which led to impound of his vehicle. Once impounded the San Diego Police policy is to document contents inside the car where they found firearms. They also found a smartphone were they searched it twice without warrants and found pictures of the arrestee posing in front of vehicle that was recently identified in a drive by shooting. From there they ran ballistic analysis on the guns found in his car were they matched gun used in the drive by shooting. The picture was used as evidence to prosecute David Riley (Riley, 2009) The California appeal court upheld the conviction. In Wurie vs. United States, Brima Wurie was arrested on suspicion of selling narcotics from his vehicle; from there police took under custody. Where they when through his call log when they noticed that the phone was repeatedly receiving calls. Officers traced the number to a location different to the address that Wurie had given them. After getting a search warrant they discovered crack cocaine, marijuana, cash, and firearms. The 1st U.S Circuit Court of Appeals threw out evidence found in the search stating that search incident to arrest exception does not authorize the warrantless search of data on a cell phone seized from an arrestee. Were David Riley and Brima Wurie rights violated?
At the moment law enforcement is allowed to search through anything that a person is in possession of when arrested. The Supreme Court has ruled that it does not violate a person 4th amendment. The three cases that have left precedents on search incident to arrest are United States vs. Robinson, Chimel vs. California and Arizona vs. Gant. The two cases that are relevant to search incident to arrest regarding cell phones are U.S vs. Robinson and Arizona vs. Gant. In the case of United States vs. Robinson the Supreme Court recognized that warrantless searches of a person are constitutional for two reasons. First searches can protect the safety of the officer as they search for weapons. Second searches can preserve evidence of the crime that the person might be carrying (Robinson , 1973). . In the case of Arizona vs. Gant the supreme court ruled that officers can search the car only in two circumstances when the arrestee is unsecured and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search, and when it is reasonable to believe evidence relevant to the crime of arrest might be found in the vehicle (Gant, 2009).
As these two cases as precedents let us see how it will affect Riley vs. California and Wurie vs. United States. Starting with Riley vs. California...

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