Understanding Your Digital Fourth Amendment Rights

iStock_000021400688SmallBecause your cell phone is such a pervasive and insistent part of your daily life the United States Supreme Court in Riley v. California ruled that, absent an emergency, the police must have a warrant before searching one.  The Court decided that because the cell phone of today has such immense storage capacity that searching through it would reveal more details of your personal life than searching your entire home.

For example, your phone isn’t just a phone – it’s your camera, video player, calendar, personal diary, briefcase, and library.  It connects you to the proverbial cloud where you can share personal files between friends, family and co-workers.  Your phone is full of private and confidential conversations with all sorts of people.  For some, simply losing their cell phone would be devastating and could cause irreparable harm.

Now imagine a stranger looking through all the pages and files and apps of your cell phone just trying to find some hint of unsavory activity?  Not a pretty picture and this is why our Supreme Court unanimously ruled that people have a Fourth Amendment right to privacy – and all the protections that come with it – in their cell phones!

How is this new digital fourth amendment rule going to affect police officers and drug charges?  The police are going to have to work harder!

Prior to this new ruling that requires a search warrant before the police can rifle through a suspects cell phone a typical drug case would progress as follows:

-The police encounter a suspect

-The suspect has some amount of illegal drugs on their person

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-The police place the suspect under arrest for possession of a controlled substance

-Since an arrest has been made, the police would then search the suspect’s cell phone

-The police would inevitable find text messages that they would construe as “people trying to buy drugs”

-The next thing you know you are now slapped with intent to distribute charges

This progression in an arrest where drugs are found has been rampant and unavoidable.  The police didn’t have to do much of an investigation and everyone knows that a text simply saying “yes, I’ll meet you in 10” doesn’t always mean “yes, I’ll meet you in 10 to buy those drugs from you!”

With the new law in place, police have to get a search warrant before they go through your phone.  And not only do they simple get a warrant, they have to have some sort of reason to believe that evidence of drug dealing is on your phone.  Is the simple possession of drugs enough of a reason to believe you may be selling it?  I guess only time will tell, but at least for now the police no longer have free reign and that’s a good start.

If you have been charged with a drug crime in the Oakland, Wayne or Macomb County communities of Royal Oak, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, Warren, Troy or any surrounding area and want the best legal representation, call The Law Office of Barton Morris at (248) 541-2600.  Our attorneys are specifically trained and knowledgeable in defending all forms of drug charges.

Attorney Morris has enjoyed a very successful and distinguished career as a trial lawyer providing high quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for 19 years. He is known for his trial preparation by fellow attorneys, judges and clients alike. As a trial attorney, he is dedicated to attaining justice in every case, and is prepared to take on complex legal issues with success. Barton and his law firm pride themselves on obtaining results for their clients that other attorneys cannot.

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Not only does Barton Morris have extensive experience, he also engages in continuing legal education to provide the highest quality legal services. Barton has received specialized scientific training through the American Chemical Society. He attended the prestigious Trial Lawyers College and serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors. Barton Morris is also a board member of several distinguished legal associations including the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys, and the DUI Defense Lawyer’s Association Justice Foundation. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and has also graduated from their National Criminal Defense Trial College in Macon, Georgia.

Barton Morris was chosen as a Top Lawyer of Metro Detroit for 2012, 2013 & 2014 for DUI/DWI and criminal defense by DBusiness Magazine and Hour Magazine. Barton Morris was also chosen as a Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense for 2014-2017 and Barton Morris is the only Lawyer in Michigan designated by the American Chemical Society as a “Forensic Lawyer-Scientist”

August 1st, 2014|