Florida Supreme Court: Police need warrant to search cell phones


Debra Cassens Weiss
ABA Journal
May 4, 2013

A cellphone is different from a cigarette pack, the Florida Supreme Court says in a ruling requiring police to get a warrant before searching cellphones seized during an arrest.

The ruling deepens the split on the constitutionality of cellphone searches incident to arrest, according to the Volokh Conspiracy. “The Florida Supreme Court has become a regular source of Fourth Amendment cases for the U.S. Supreme Court, as we saw this past Term in Harris and Jardinesinvolving drug dog searches, writes blogger Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this case follows the same path to 1 First Street.”

The court ruled in the case of accused convenience-store robber Cedric Smallwood, the Tampa Tribune reports. The clerk of the robbed store told police he recognized the robber by his voice, leading to the arrest of Smallwood. Police seized Smallwood’s cellphone incident to the arrest and found incriminating photos taken after the robbery, including photos of Smallwood and his fiancée holding bundles of money.

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