Police Officers Can Search Your iPhone Following Arrest For A Traffic Violation

from the fourth-amendment dept

Adam Gershowitz writes "I am a criminal law professor from Houston, Texas and I have recently finished an article about the ability of police officers to search the contents of a person's iPhone at a traffic stop. In brief, under what is referred to as the "search incident to arrest doctrine," police can search through any container found on the body of a person who has been arrested. It does not matter that the arrest was for running a stop sign, or speeding, or some other seemingly minor traffic infraction. Regardless of the reason for the arrest, police can search through every container on the person's body, even if the police have no suspicion that there is anything illegal in it. A few courts have concluded that this doctrine permits police to search text messages found on cell phones. My article explores the circumstances under which police can now search not only text messages, but also the email, pictures, movies, calendar entries, and internet browsing history found on iPhones and similar devices -- even if the police have no suspicion that there is anything illegal on the iPhone. In short, the article explores ways in which the police can search through the thousands of pages of data on individuals' wireless technology even if there is no probable cause or other suspicion of illegal activity."

Filed Under: fourth amendment, iphone, police, privacy, traffic stop


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  1. identicon
    Hopeless Charm, 24 Jan 2008 @ 10:41pm

    Constitutional Fundamentals

    Run of the mill traffic stop does not permit officers to search ANYTHING including your cellie - 4th Amendment presides. Any searching they'd do would be court tossed.

    And how have breathylyzers and field tests not been thrown out as 5th Amendment violations against your right NOT to offer evidence against yourself ?! Seems to me the only evidence for drunken driving against someone should be officer observation of erratic driving or worse. [But this isn't the main topic here so enough of that.]


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