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U.S. Supreme Court to rule on constitutionality of cell phone searches

When the Founders of the United States drafted the Constitution, it was impossible for them to predict the emergence of cell phones, smart phones, and other devices. Over the last two centuries, federal and state governments in Pennsylvania and elsewhere have addressed several criminal defense issues related to technologies that did not exist in the early days of our nation’s history.

Although the Constitution protects Pennsylvanians from unreasonable searches and seizures, the authorities are allowed to search anything that a person is carrying with them. However, the court has not yet weighed in on whether or not law enforcement has the right to search a person’s cell phone, which can contain an enormous amount of data. By the end of this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether law enforcement will be able to use this wealth of data, which is often found in people’s pockets, against alleged criminals.

In one recent case, a Boston man was arrested, and the authorities used his cell phone call history to determine where he lived. With the information, they were able to obtain a search warrant and in the end, they found drugs and firearms in his house.

Some people argue that some crime networks are so sophisticated that they have the ability to shut off cell phones remotely; therefore, allowing the authorities to use mobile phone data as evidence could prove fruitless.

If you have been subject to an unjust search and charged with a crime, it may be helpful for you to talk to an attorney about a criminal appeal.

Source: WBUR, “Mass. Warrantless Cellphone Search Case Reaches Supreme Court,” Gabrielle Emanuel, April 28, 2014

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