Breaking Legal News - POSTED: 2011/01/05 17:35
The California Supreme Court ruled in San Francisco on Monday that police are entitled to search text messages on the cell phones of arrestees without obtaining a warrant.
The court, ruling in a Ventura County case, said by a 5-2 vote that warrantless searches of text messages are permitted under precedents set by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The panel upheld the drug conviction of Gregory Diaz, who was arrested for aiding in selling Ecstasy to a police informant during an undercover sting operation.
Sheriff’s deputies seized Diaz’s cell phone along with six tabs of Ecstasy. One and one-half hours later, a detective, who did not have a search warrant, looked in the text message folder of the phone and discovered a coded message that referred to Ecstasy sales.
When confronted with the message, Diaz admitted to participating in the deal. He later pleaded guilty to transporting a controlled substance and was sentenced to probation, but he reserved his right to appeal the use of evidence from the text message.
The state high court majority said the search was permitted under U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have allowed warrantless searches of personal property such as clothing or a cigarette package that are “immediately associated” with a person who is arrested.