Police Need Search Warrant Before They Can Search Computer, Tablet and Smart Phone

Randall Levine

Do YOU know your rights when it comes to the data stored on your tablet or smartphone?

Chances are, you have a smart device – but do not know your rights regarding the search or seizure of those devices. The Michigan Court of Appeals recently issued a ruling in People v Gingrich, 2014 WL 5783091, which strengthens your right to privacy regarding the data stored on your computer, tablet, and smartphone.

Police must have a search warrant based on probable cause in order to search anyone’s electronic device.

Lawyers at Levine & Levine are closely following this ruling as outdated 4th amendment concepts have struggled to catch up with technology. The government’s right to search and seize your device is substantially diminished by this groundbreaking ruling. Until now, the government did not obtain search warrants when reviewing data stored on electronic devices. The government claimed when information is shared with others through an electronic device, individuals should not expect privacy from government intrusion.

Things have changed. Our legal system now recognizes that searches of smartphones, tablets, and computers conducted without search warrants violate the 4th Amendment. This means if your computer, tablet or smartphone has been searched without a warrant, any incriminating evidence seized must be suppressed and criminal charges could be dismissed.

The government is expected to appeal to the Court of Appeals’ ruling. We are all waiting to see what happens next.

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