Ohio state supreme court: Cell phones off limits to cops

Ohio’s supreme court ruled on Tuesday that police officers need a search warrant to search suspects phone.  The supreme court voted 4-3 in favor of Antwaun Smith and reversed a ruling by the 2nd District Court of Appeals.

Smith was arrested when he answered his cell when a cocaine user acting as a police informant placed a call to Smith.  Smith’s cell phone was confiscated by police and was later searched without a warrant or Smith’s consent.  Judith Lanzinger wrote this desent:

Although cell phones cannot be equated with laptop computers, their ability to store large amounts of private data gives their users a reasonable and justifiable expectation of a higher level of privacy in the information they contain. Once the cell phone is in police custody, the state has satisfied its immediate interest in collecting and preserving evidence and can take preventive steps to ensure that the data found on the phone is neither lost nor erased. But because a person has a high expectation of privacy in a cell phone’s contents, police must then obtain a warrant before intruding into the phone’s contents.

I agree whole heartedly with the Ohio supreme court.  Under no circumstances should any branch of law enforcement be able to rifle through someone’s personal belongings without a warrant.


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