Police Search Cell Phone at the Time of Arrest

By Charles G. Douglas, III
So, if you’ve been arrested, can the police scroll through your recent cell phone calls? A recent case in Massachusetts involved a situation where the accused was suspected of doing a drug deal within the sight of police officers. When he was placed under arrest, the detective asked what his cell phone number was. Following arrest and transportation to the police station, the detective conducted a few simple manipulations of the cell phone to check the history of incoming and outgoing calls that had been made recently.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in State v. Phifer last month decided whether an officer can conduct a warrantless search of a suspect’s cellular telephone after his arrest. Of course, there is a warrant requirement in the State and Federal Constitutions but a search incident to arrest has long been an exception to the warrant clause. The officers had probable cause to believe that the cell phone was involved in the drug deal because they had seen the defendant using it just before the drugs were passed to another person. Police also testify that based on their experience, cell phones are commonly used in the drug trade.

Police may now give a cell phone a quick check once someone is arrested on probable cause and brought into a station. Dialer beware!
If you have been charged with a crime or believe your rights have been violated, you should consult an experienced criminal lawyer at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online contact form for a case evaluation.[raw_html_snippet id=”cdouglas-sig”]

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