Warrantless searches of cellphones? Simple question. Simple answer. No (generally).
In Riley v. California the Supreme Court held unanimously that generally police must first obtain a warrant before searching an arrested person’s cellphone.
Police searched David Riley’s cell phone after he was arrested on gun charges and found evidence of gang activity. In a second case, police arrested Brima Wurie for selling drugs and used his cell phone to figure out where he lived—where they found more drugs and guns.
The Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant before they conduct a search unless an exception applies. The exception at issue in this case is a search incident to a lawful arrest.