Search warrant now required before police can search your smart - WFLA News Channel 8

Search warrant now required before police can search your smart phone

Posted: Updated:
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

The U.S. Supreme Court moved Wednesday to protect your privacy in this digital world, but it could make it more difficult for law enforcement to catch criminals.

Officers now routinely check cell phones and other electronic devices when investigating a crime. Someone pulled over for a traffic violation, for example, could end up going to jail for something an officer finds on their smart phone. And even if you don't have something criminal on your phone, most people store private information they don't want a curious officer looking through.

Text messages, photos, bank statements, it's all there. But the court's decision means that officers will have to get a search warrant before they look at that information.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says his deputies searched phones and found valuable information that helped them crack down on crime. For example, Gualtieri said, a Pinellas County deputy stopped a man for a traffic violation, and found child porn on his phone. If that traffic stop happened today, that predator would have walked free.

"I don't think there's any question that there are some crimes, and evidence of crimes, that we were able to collect yesterday, and we're not going to be able to collect today and won't be able to collect tomorrow," Gualtieri said.

Even so, Gualtieri said he respects the decision and will "have to live with it." He also appreciates that the decision included exceptions in cases of emergencies. The court left those exceptions vague, but gave an example of a missing child. If information on someone's phone may help find that child, that could qualify as an exception.

Attorney Kevin Hayslett said he understands the position of law enforcement, but the search warrant requirement, he said, is the cost of privacy.

"No longer do law enforcement have carte blanche to take and go through and mine whatever information they can get out of it, for whatever purpose they have," Hayslett said.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

  • Don't Miss ItMore>>

  • Panthers' Hardy won't play Sunday against Detroit

    Panthers' Hardy won't play Sunday against Detroit

    Sunday, September 14 2014 12:55 PM EDT2014-09-14 16:55:52 GMT
    Hardy was convicted in July on one count of assaulting a female. Hardy was convicted in July on one count of assaulting a female.
    Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy is inactive for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.That news comes just two days after Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the Pro Bowler would play.Do you tweet? We do! Join us on http://8.wfla.com/1dsYrjSHardy was convicted July 15 of assault on a female and communicating threats. He is appealing the ruling. He was active against Tampa Bay in Week 1.Mario Addison is expected to star...
    Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy is inactive for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.That news comes just two days after Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the Pro Bowler would play.Do you tweet? We do! Join us on http://8.wfla.com/1dsYrjSHardy was convicted July 15 of assault on a female and communicating threats. He is appealing the ruling. He was active against Tampa Bay in Week 1.Mario Addison is expected to star...
  • Gators survive 'Swamp' scare, beat UK, 36-30

    Gators survive 'Swamp' scare, beat UK, 36-30

    Sunday, September 14 2014 11:14 AM EDT2014-09-14 15:14:06 GMT
    Matt Jones scored the game-winner in the third overtime period on Saturday night. Matt Jones scored the game-winner in the third overtime period on Saturday night.
    Matt Jones plunged across the goal line, and before he could even get to his knees, was mobbed by teammates.Jones' 1-yard run in triple overtime gave Florida a 36-30 victory over Kentucky on Saturday night, extending the Gators' winning streak in the Southeastern Conference series to 28 games.
    Matt Jones plunged across the goal line, and before he could even get to his knees, was mobbed by teammates.Jones' 1-yard run in triple overtime gave Florida a 36-30 victory over Kentucky on Saturday night, extending the Gators' winning streak in the Southeastern Conference series to 28 games.
  • Win ticket to Halloween Horror Nights 2014 - Universal Studios

    Win ticket to Halloween Horror Nights 2014 - Universal Studios

    Friday, September 12 2014 9:20 PM EDT2014-09-13 01:20:02 GMT
    Enter here.
    Enter here.
  • Most Viewed Stories on WFLA.com

  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.