Image via samantha celera (Flickr.com).
Ohio patrol officers looking to gather evidence from the cell phones of people they question will now need a search warrant, following a ruling by that state's high court.
A split Ohio Supreme Court ruled that police must have a warrant to seize and search through the cell phone of a person they are arresting, unless an officer's safety is in immediate danger, Cleveland.com reports.
The decision stemmed from the arrest of Antwaun Smith on drug-related charges after Smith responded to a call to his cell phone that had been placed by a crack cocaine user acting as a police informant, according to the decision.
During the arrest, police searched Smith and found a cell phone on his person. The arresting officer put the cell phone in his pocket and placed Smith in a cruiser, then searched the scene for evidence.
Later, police recovered bags containing crack cocaine at the scene. Officers subsequently searched the contents of Smith's phone without a search warrant or his consent. They discovered call records and stored numbers that confirmed prior calls between Smith's phone and the informant's phone number.
Smith was charged with possession of cocaine, trafficking in cocaine, tampering with evidence and two counts of possession of criminal tools.
The court provides additional explanation of its 4-3 majority decision on its website, including a PDF of the majority opinion, as well as video of oral arguments of the case.
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