United States v Camou: Warrantless Cell Phone Searches after Riley v California

Legal Issues Journal, Vol. 3, Issue 2, pp. 117-135, 2015

19 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2015

See all articles by Marco Wong

Marco Wong

Columbia Journal of Transnational Law; Columbia University, Law School, Students

Date Written: July 15, 2015

Abstract

This Comment examines how the Fourth Amendment applies to warrantless cell phone searches in United States v Camou, and questions whether the Ninth Circuit’s ultimate position is desirable. Last year, in Riley v California, the United States Supreme Court held that a police officer should generally get a warrant before searching a defendant’s cell phone incident to her arrest. It explained that cell phone searches may be very intrusive of one’s privacy because of the amount of information that cell phones can contain, as well as their pervasiveness in our lives. The Camou court was challenged with what this insight meant for other exceptions to the Fourth Amendment’s traditional warrant requirement.

After discussing, in Part I, Camou’s holding that evidence was improperly obtained and had to be excluded, Part II examines Camou’s analyses of the exigency and automobile exceptions to the traditional warrant requirement, and good faith exception to the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule. It suggests, in Part III, that the Supreme Court should reject exigency searches of cell phones altogether, endorse but further elaborate Camou’s holding that cell phones are non-containers under the automobile exception, and reject its understanding of good faith. We should expand defendants’ rights by requiring police to get a warrant in all cell phone searches — since it is quick and easy to do so — but constrain their remedy to include evidence where an officer relies on her own objectively reasonable mistakes or binding court precedent — since the exclusionary rule’s goal is to deter police misconduct.

Keywords: cell phones, Fourth Amendment, Riley v California, exigency, automobiles, good faith, technology

Suggested Citation

Wong, Marco, United States v Camou: Warrantless Cell Phone Searches after Riley v California (July 15, 2015). Legal Issues Journal, Vol. 3, Issue 2, pp. 117-135, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2633123

Marco Wong (Contact Author)

Columbia Journal of Transnational Law ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Columbia University, Law School, Students ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

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