25 June 2014

Law in Plain English: Riley v. California

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

SCOTUSblogRiley v. California (see also Wurie v. United States)

Argument: Apr 29 2014 (Aud.)

Background: Following a gang shooting, Riley (a known gang member)'s car was stopped by police and searched. The search found two handguns. As a result of the arrest, police seized his cell phone, and discovered (without a warrant) pictures of Riley making gang signs and videos showing Riley's gang affiliation. The trial cout ruled the search of the cell phone was lawful, and the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, affirmed.

Issue: The question before the Court is whether evidence admitted at petitioner's trial was obtained in a search of petitioner's cell phone that violated petitioner's Fourth Amendment rights.

Holding: In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested.
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