Supreme Court to rule on cell phone searches - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Supreme Court to rule on cell phone searches

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Supreme Court reviewing warrantless cell phone searches Supreme Court reviewing warrantless cell phone searches
KANAWHA COUNTY, WV -

We all have secrets on our phones and we think that information is safe. But if you were arrested by the police, should they be allowed to rummage through for evidence without a warrant?

"It’s kind of illegal it seems like to me,” said Josh Kyle, a Chelyan resident.

“I think it’s a violation of people’s privacy,” said Robert Harper, who lives in Charleston.

The Supreme Court took up two cases this week to address this very question. Police have the power to search through wallets and purses, but are cell phones with vast amounts of sensitive texts and pictures any different?

"It feels like I'm kind of betrayed. I mean, the Constitution says they can't search without a warrant,” said Kyle.

"It’s okay sometimes,” said Kayla Taylor, a St. Albans resident. “Something could be in that cell phone that leads to the crime…a text message, or a call.”

In Kanawha County, deputies use cell phones to solve crimes daily.

"The birth of smart phones has really assisted us in our jobs,” said Detective Jeremy Burns with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office. “You have so many apps that people use for communication now so we’re able to find more evidence."

Burns specializes in digital forensics. He says tracking call logs has helped place people at the scene of a crime and drawn out co-conspirators. But Burns says warrantless phone searches are done responsibly.

"We don't do this on every arrest.,” he said. “If we arrest somebody for battery, we have no reason to look through their cell phone."

But many people say they still want restrictions on warrantless cell phone searches to be put in place.

"Even it there isn't anything bad in my phone, it's my business not theirs,” said Kyle.

The Supreme Court ruling is expected in June and will affect almost everyone. According to the Pew Research Center, 90 percent of Americans use cell phones; 58 percent own smartphones.