SuperTalk Mississippi

Police Now Need a Warrant to Search Your Cellphone

JACKSON, Miss. — If you get pulled over, or have a run in with police in Mississippi or really anywhere in the Country, they now have to have a warrant in order search your cellphone. That  ruling was made Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mississippi College Law Professor Matt Steffey says the Supreme Court has encountered a number of cases dealing with new technology, and trying to extend pre-ditigal age principals into the digital world. Previously, a police officer was able to search a person and areas within the person’s reach whenever a person was arrested. This was to make sure the person did not have access to a weapon or destructible evidence.

“The court reasoned unanimously that those two concerns were much less present, if present at all when searching a cellphone,” said Steffey. “The court said a resounding no, that the contents of a cellphone themselves could not be dangerous if used as a weapon, and the privacy concerns were enormous because people can store their whole lives on a cellphone or at least access their whole lives on a cellphone.”

The court also said that there was not a particular concern for destruction of evidence. Police can disable your phone, and they can certainly seize your phone.

The cases that prompted the Supreme Court ruling were from Massachusetts and California, where text messages and photos linked individuals to drug and gang activity. However, there have been cases like this in Mississippi. A couple of years ago a person was arrested at the Mississippi State Fair because contents of his lost cellphone lead police to evidence of sex crimes.

“I supposed people might consider that a downside. It’s certainly nice that we found evidence of a sex crime in an unrelated context, but the constitution requires a difference balance. It requires probable cause and a warrant in order to search the contents of a cell phone.”

“If that case were to come up under this rule it would have been treated differently.”

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