Court allows warrantless cellphone search

By Brendan Sasso – 03/01/12 03:52 PM ET

A federal appeals court in Chicago ruled on Wednesday that police did not violate a suspect’s constitutional rights when they searched his cellphone without a warrant.

In the decision, Judge Richard Posner noted that the case has implications for whether police can search computers without a warrant because modern cellphones essentially are computers.


In the case, Indiana police arrested Abel Flores-Lopez, a suspected drug dealer, and seized his cellphone. Without a warrant, they used his phone to discover its number, and then used the number to subpoena call records from his telephone company. 

Prosecutors used the call records as evidence to convict Flores-Lopez on drug charges. His lawyers argued that the records should have been excluded from the trial because the search violated his Fourth Amendment right to be protected from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”  More…