Riley Vs California Case Study

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Riley v. California 573 U.S. ____ (2014)

By: Jonathan Feltis
December 16, 2015
Dr. Bobby Lomeli, AJ12

In 2014, the United States Supreme Court reviewed the case of Riley v. California and a very similar case United States v. Wurie, and decided on June 25, 2014, whether or not the data of a cell phone (smart phone) can be searched incident to arrest without a warrant. Before Riley v. California was decided, information about searching the data of cell phones was vague. There were differing rulings by state and federal courts whether or not police can search a cell phones digital contents without a warrant. States such as California, Georgia and Massachusetts allowed warrant less searches incident to arrest. Other states like Florida …show more content…

After being sentenced, Riley filed for an appeal. The California Supreme Court reviewed Riley 's case on February 8, 2013. The court relied on a previous court decision in People v. Diaz 51 Cal. 4Th 84 244 P. 3d 501 (2011). The ruling in People v. Diaz states that police are not required to obtain a warrant to search data on a cell phone, as long as it was on the arrestee’s person or in the immediate area due to the search incident to arrest doctrine. The court denied Riley 's petition for review and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari (a writ or order by which a higher court reviews the decision of …show more content…

The second main point of argument that the court listened to was based on the precedent case of Chimel v. California 395 U.S. 752 (1969). In Chimel, it was ruled that when an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the body of a person and the immediate area, to remove any weapons for officer safety. It is also reasonable to seize any evidence found in order to prevent it 's concealment or destruction. The Chimel case also was the base to the Search Incident To Arrest doctrine. On the point of officer safety Riley argued that the data on a cell phone could not be used as a weapon to endanger officer safety or to aid the arrestee 's escape from custody. An officer could physically search the cell phone and it 's case for weapons, such as a razor blade. The State countered that the suspect 's cell phone could be used to call associates to aid him, which would affect officer safety. Allowing the officer to search the cell phone without a warrant might give him/her warning that someone is coming. On the point of protecting evidence from concealment or destruction, Riley argued that once a cell phone has been seized, there is no need for the officer to search the digital contents to protect it. The State countered, saying that the data on a cell phone, when in custody of police, is subject to

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