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Supreme Court to Rule On Cell Phone Search

We live in a digital age. The time when all our private information was kept inside our home is gone. The time when our private information was kept only on a computer is gone. Today, cell-phones are like mini-computers. The amount of information that can be kept on a smart-phone is vast. The question is, is that information any less private because it is on a cell-phone instead of a computer? A further question is, since that information is on a cell-phone, can it be searched when a person is arrested?

The United States Supreme Court will look to decide these issues in the case of United States v. Wurie. In Wurie, the defendant was lawfully arrested, and as part of that arrest, his cell-phone was searched. The police did not have a warrant to search the cell-phone, but searched as a result of the defendant’s arrest.

While the government’s belief is that the courts have approved this practice, the defense, and ultimately the appellate court, found that this practice violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court stated that cell-phones have become what the home was back at the time of the founding of the United States. A cell-phone is where the papers, effects, and written and audio information is stored. That is why the Court ruled that the cell-phone could not be searched without a warrant.

The United States Supreme Court will have to decide if a warrant is required to search a cell-phone after a lawful arrest. It is true that when a person is arrested, they can be searched for weapons and contraband without a warrant. However, a cell-phone does not announce its contents. A cell-phone is where many people today keep their most private information. As such, the Supreme Court will have to decide just how private our devices are in this digital age.

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Mark C. Cogan, P.C., of Portland, Oregon, represents individuals charged with crimes throughout Oregon, including central Oregon, northern Oregon, Pacific Coast communities and the Willamette River valley, including Clackamas County, Washington County, Multnomah County, Columbia County, Marion County, Tillamook County, Clatsop County, Lincoln County, Lane County, Linn County and Benton County and the cities of Salem, Lake Oswego, Gresham, Oregon City, Tigard, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tualatin, Milwaukie, West Linn, The Dalles and Clackamas.

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