FL court rules police can search cells phone without a warrant - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

FL court rules police can search cells phone without a warrant

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Should police officers be allowed to search your cell phone when they arrest you?

A state appeals court says 'yes', and, experts say, the ruling could mean your phone and all the data in it is subject to a search without a warrant.

This ruling is the latest by a state appeal court that says police can search your phone as they do a wallet.

An expert tells us the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal argues your cell phone is like any other container you have with you, and that police can search it without going to a judge first for a warrant.

The court ruled after a defendant there tried to get evidence thrown out that, prosecutors say, showed he was planning to sell drugs.

Law enforcement exerts say cell phones can provide vital evidence, like who someone has spoken to or what Web sites they've looked at.

We spoke to people downtown who say your cell phone is more than just a container; it's potentially a databank of almost everything about you. "In texting, you're back and forth. You're talking to people; you're carrying on conversations with people. It's personal; it's work related. In e-mails, it's personal. It's a lot of private information no one should be privy to," said Denise Perez.

"The average suspect, person, underestimates how much potentially incriminating evidence there is on their cell phones," said Brad Robinson with The Millennium Group.

Fox 29 legal expert Michelle Suskauer says this case seems headed not only for the Florida Supreme court, but, one day, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But as it stands now, she says, police when they arrest someone, probably have reign to look through a cell phone unless it is password protected.

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