Supreme Court Case Gives Expansive Meaning to Physical Force Interpretation of Domestic Violence

In August 2009, David Riley was pulled over in San Diego, California for having expired tags on his car and a suspended driver’s license. The officer impounded Riley’s car and conducted a warrantless search of the car. The officer found two handguns that were later linked to a shooting that had taken place a few weeks prior. During the arrest, the officers confiscated and rummaged through the data on Riley’s smartphone without a warrant. Some of the data on the phone linked Riley to gang activity and the shooting and was entered into evidence at the trial, where Riley was convicted on three charges. Riley argued that allowing police officers to search through data on his cell phone without a warrant is an unacceptable intrusion on personal privacy. California argued that police officers need to be able to confiscate cell phones without first obtaining a warrant for safety reasons and to prevent destruction of evidence. The case was appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court.

On June 25, 2014, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police may not search a smartphone or similar device without a warrant from a judge (Riley vs. California). This decision came as a surprise to court watchers. Many think this may ultimately bring into question whether the government may routinely search all other types of electric devices, such as laptops and tablets.

Legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union said, “By recognizing that the digital revolution has transformed our expectations of privacy, today’s decision is itself revolutionary. We have entered a new world. But our values apply and limit the government’s ability to rummage through intimate details of our private lives.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, “Modern cellphones are not just another technological device. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the ‘privacies of life.’ ” He continued “The term ‘cellphone’ is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers. They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps or newspapers.”

In conclusion, due to the fast development of technology, and the fact that most cellphones now serve as minicomputers, the Supreme Court has ruled that a warrant is needed to search these types of devices. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case affects the scope of Fourth Amendment protection available to personal technology.

At the Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we provide clients with passionate and experienced representation. If you have been charged with domestic violence or any other crime and would like to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm, contact us by phone at (310) 448-1529 or contact us online. We promptly return phone calls and emails. Our office is conveniently located in the Westside Towers in West Los Angeles, within minutes of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Westwood. We have flexible and weekend office hours, and we will visit you in jail to discuss your case.

One comment

  1. On March 20, 2014, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that California’s taking and storing DNA profiles from anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony is Constitutional. This caused a bit of controversy throughout the State, because some argue that this practice should not be legal. The state of Maryland practices.

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