13 Jul

Supreme Court and Search Warrants

Supreme Court says police may not generally search the cellphones of people they arrest without first getting search warrants.

I have been asked about my opinion re; Law Enforcement Requiring Search Warrants to examine digital evidence… so here is my 2 cents…

I agree with this ruling to the extent that obtaining a search warrant first, reduces the probability of anything happening to the data on the phone. What I think will happen, is that the search warrants will include catch all language for digital devices. It’s important that chain of custody for these devices is maintained for prosecution and defense, Data on mobile devices is volatile. Some defense strategist rely on digital evidence to prove many things, one of which is placing or removing a suspect from the scene of a crime – that’s huge, if a cell phone can shed doubt on whether you were at a murder scene or not – that’s life altering data. I would check and triple inspect the digital evidence from the minute the arrest was made, who was the first to touch the phone after the suspect, or iPad or whatever the device is…

I have worked on cases where law enforcement requested minors for permission to search phones. I was involved in a case where an officer took a phone from a minor and drove around with it for a few days in his car, then placed it in his desk draw for a few more days – and later tried to charge suspect with evidence extracted from that phone. It’s like removing a deadly weapon from a crime scene, driving around with it in the car, then holding onto it in an office before it’s booked into evidence…

My thoughts are – get a search warrant – but i also think there should be exceptions, For example, the exceptions should be charge related, if the incident relates to national security, or terrorism – waiting on search warrant could be risky – digital evidence can be destroyed remotely, so law enforcement should be able to seize and extract the data – right away.

Like with anything else in life, not everything is black and white, there are 50 shades of grey in between…

Leon Mare

@DataForensics

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