May 4, 2016 By Paul Wallin

I’m on Parole. Can Cops Search My Cellphone?

Cellphones have become so ingrained in everyday life that for most people their phone is almost an extension of themselves. From the most mundane communications with friends and family, to the most sensitive bank and personal records, cellphones have become a repository for much of the information that people feel most protective about.crime

Does the fact that cellphones now resemble computers more than their rotary or land-line predecessors change the way that police must go about searching them? Case law developing over the last few years has begun to answer that question with a resounding yes. Recently, a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the issue with respect to random searches of those who are on parole.

The Case for a “Special Status” for Cellphones

In 2014, the Supreme Court made a decisive move to expand protections for cellphones against warrantless searches. In the past, cellphones had been treated similar to other types of basic property. If a person was arrested, police were typically justified in searching that person’s cellphone without first obtaining permission from a judge in the form of a warrant.

In this decision (Riley v. California), the court held that this practice was no longer appropriate, largely because of the kinds of technological advances made with cellphones.1 No longer are they simply used to call people; cellphones now resemble computers, holding vast amounts of personal data that much of the public expects to remain private.

The decision is a major turning point in the battle between effective law enforcement and protecting individual privacy, but it has raised a number of questions. What, for instance, must law enforcement do in order to be able to search the cellphone of someone on parole?

What About Parole?

The idea behind a parole system is to lower the privacy level of individuals who may pose a continued threat to the public. People on parole are often subject to indiscriminate searches of their person and belongings, often without warning or warrant. This is because parole often requires an individual to waive his or her Fourth Amendment rights to unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently took on this issue, and used the same logic that the Supreme Court used to reach their decision in 2014.2 The court ruled that because of the extensive amount of personal data contained on cellphones, warrantless searches of cellphones are not appropriate under the Fourth Amendment waivers often signed by parolees.

Now, similar to the search of cellphones owned by individuals not on parole, law enforcement will be required to obtain a warrant before searching the cellphones of parolees. If you are on parole and evidence discovered on your cellphone during a warrantless search leads to a subsequent criminal charge or allegation of a parole violation, your attorney can argue for that evidence to be suppressed.

Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are being charged with violating your parole, you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. At Wallin & Klarich, we have been successfully defending our clients against parol violations charges for over 40 years. We can help you, too.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney can help you no matter your location.

Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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