In a blow to defendants and defense attorneys, a federal court in Oklahoma City recently ruled that police were within their limits to search the personal information saved in a suspects cell phone that they found in his car after he was arrested. He was pulled over for a traffic offense but subsequently arrested for a drug crime.
Defense attorneys argued that a warrant was needed but the court ruled otherwise. One fear was that the individual could have remotely wiped his phone, and authorities would have lost important information related to his drug crimes.
While this case centered around a drug arrest, it makes us aware that cell phones are becoming targets of police. And not just your call history, but also personal information you store in your phone. A simple traffic stop, like the one that took place here, could lead to a more serious charge, and what is in your phone could be used against you.
The impact of this case is not clear. Obviously people will continue to drive with their phones in their cars. But, it is good to remember this case when you store personal information in your phone. Just like when you post information on the Internet, don't save anything in your phone you would not want others to know about.
Defense attorneys will continue to fight to keep this type of personal information excluded in the meantime, but is appears the tides are changing and police are being granted more access to this kind of information.