US Supreme Court rules police must have warrant before searching arrestees cell phones

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The U.S. Supreme Court says police must have a warrant before they can look in your cell phone.

That decision could impact the way officers investigate certain cases right here in Kern County.

“To officers that feel that they have an entitlement to search anything whenever they arrest someone it might be a bad day for them, but for the Fourth Amendment and the Constitution it’s a good day," said Bakersfield criminal defense attorney Jared Thompson.

Criminal defense attorneys are celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision to require search warrants before police can look in the phone of a person they have arrested.

"They can seize the phone, but to actually go inside the phone and begin reviewing the data, text messages, photographs that are saved, they would need a warrant for that," Thompson said.

The District Attorney's office says the decision probably won’t have a huge impact on the cases they prosecute.

"I wasn't that surprised, smart phones now have so much more information than ever before, so much more private information," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Pafford

Sheriff Donny Youngblood says the ruling adds an extra step for officers to follow, but he says in most cases his deputies were already getting warrants for cell phones anyway.

"Sometimes your gut tells you somebody's got something and you don’t have probable cause, it happens to police officers all the time, I know what’s in there. There is no doubt in my mind but I don’t have probable cause. That’s the way our country is designed, that’s just the way it works," Youngblood said.

Sheriff Youngblood pointed out that with today's technology they can request a search warrant right from their cars so the need for a warrant shouldn't make investigations much longer.

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