California Law Bans Warrantless Cell Phone Searches

September 21st, 2011

From CNN:

A new law now requires law-enforcement officers in that state to obtain a warrant before searching the cell phone of a person placed under arrest.

This law overrides a January ruling by the California Supreme Court.According to California Sen. Mark Leno, who sponsored the legislation, this ruling had “legalized the warrantless search of cell phones during an arrest, regardless of whether the information on the phone is relevant to the arrest or if criminal charges are ever filed.”

The new California law unanimously passed in the state Assembly. Today the office of Gov. Jerry Brown confirmed that since the governor did not make a specific decision on this legislation, it became automatically enrolled as a law this week.

Under this legislation, California law enforcement officers must first obtain a search warrant when there is probable cause to believe a suspect’s portable electronic device contains evidence of a crime.