A person has a constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizures. Essentially every person has a right to privacy under the US constitution. Now the right to privacy is reduced when a person is arrested or under other circumstances.
Photo taken by Ian Britton: http://www.ianbritton.co.uk/
Under these rules, police can’t randomly search people to look for drugs or evidence linking them to crimes. Police need a legitimate reason to search a person or a warrant. When a person is arrested, police are allowed to do an inventory of the person’s belongings. This inventory search may lead to the discovery of illegal materials such as weapons or drugs.
With the new world of technology, courts across the United States are trying to determine the use of warrantless search on technology. In California, a court ruled that the police don’t need to obtain a warrant to search the text messages of a suspected drug dealer.
In the 2007 case, the Defendant was arrested by the police on suspicion of drug dealing. When the Defendant was arrested the police officer took the suspect’s phone out of his pocket and read the text messages without a warrant. The court ruled that the police didn’t violate the Defendant’s constitutional right.
States differ on this subject. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that arrested suspects phones can’t be searched without a warrant. This issue is long from being resolved and may end up being reviewed and ruled on by the US Supreme Court. Until then, it will be interesting to see how the states rule on this subject and other constitutional issues surrounding technology.
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