Under the search-incidental-to-arrest exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement, law enforcement can search anything on one’s person when one is arrested. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the digital information contained on a wireless device is so extensive and private that law enforcement must obtain a search warrant before searching a wireless device. The Supreme Court noted that wireless devices can store a vast amount of information that cannot be stored in a book, diary, or other item someone might carry in an analog world. However, the Court notes that there may be exigent circumstances under which law enforcement would not require a warrant, such as a missing child or a bomb threat.
For additional information, please contact Tara Shostek.