Landmark cases teacher searching student cell phone


Who is conducting the search?

In New York City, a previous district-wide ban was lifted in The district rule has been replaced by a patchwork of school-by-school policies and educator-by-educator enforcement. And what happens after an educator confiscates a device? In general, teachers and administrators can seize a disruptive device though for many this is not the first choice , and district policies can provide explicitly for that.

But whether educators can search a device is far less clear, dependent on the situation and in some cases the state. While the Supreme Court held in that police need a warrant to search a cell phone, schools have historically had a little more leeway with searches, be they bags, lockers or, these days, devices.

The Right to Search Students

In other words, if an official thinks a student took photos of a fight that happened moments ago, that likely would not justify a search of the student's old emails, while a search of photos may be warranted. It is unclear whether or not a court would agree. Finally, a few state legislatures have taken the matter into their own hands. A bill considered in Connecticut last year and again this year H. First, only duly-sworn law enforcement officers can execute a search warrant.

Four on Fourth: Four Cases that Impact the Fourth Amendment (Search & Seizure) in Schools - BRCSM

Second, the search can only be for evidence of the specific crime that you are suspected of breaking, and the search warrant must describe the type of information and parts of the phone that may be searched. For example, school officials cannot look at photos unless they have probable cause to believe that the photos contain evidence of a crime. But that does not give it the authority to conduct a search. But, one week later, the Governor vetoed the bill, stating that "courts are better suited" to decide this issue of Fourth Amendment law.

There is currently a split among state and federal courts over the cell phone search-incident-to-arrest doctrine. The Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh Circuits have ruled that officers can search cell phones incident to arrest under various standards, and that rule has been followed by the Supreme Courts of Georgia, Massachusetts, and California. The Supreme Court first outlined the search-incident-to-arrest exception in Chimel v.

California , U.

Orlando Office

Robinson , U. This exception serves two governmental interests: 1 the need to ensure officer safety and disarm the suspect and 2 the need to prevent destruction of evidence. But, as the Court stressed in a recent case, when "there is no possibility" that the suspect could gain access to a weapon or destroy evidence "both justifications for the search-incident-to-arrest exception are absent and the rule does not apply.

Gant , U. The basic rule under the Fourth Amendment is that "searches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable.


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In his opening brief, Riley argued that the search of his cell phone was not justified under the Chimel exception because it was not necessary to serve any legitimate government interest. Specifically, the device did not threaten officer safety, and searching it after it had already been seized was not necessary to prevent the destruction of evidence. Riley also argued that the search of his cell phone was unreasonably intrusive given the extraordinary amount of sensitive personal information stored on the phone, and the First Amendment implications of the government's collection of those communications.

Petitioner also argued that it would not be sufficient for the Court to establish a rule limiting the cell phone search to situations where the officer believes the phone contains evidence of the crime of arrest. Finally, Riley argued that the search of his cell phone at the police stationhouse was too remote from his arrest to be justified under the exception. EPIC has an interest in upholding Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In particular, EPIC is focused on preventing the erosion of constitutional privacy rights due to the emergence of new technologies.

Cell phone privacy is of critical concern to all Americans, as sensitive private data is now routinely stored and accessed via Internet-enabled smartphones. This data is intensely private and can reveal intimate details including sensitive communications, photos and videos, financial data, health records, and even confidential documents stored on remote servers.

Phones also provide access to communications and records of third parties, whose privacy interests are also implicated. EPIC previously outlined the importance of minimizing data subject to law enforcement search and seizure in its amicus curiae brief in City of Ontario, Ca v. United States , F.

EPIC seeks to ensure that the amount of individualized private data collected and stored by the government is minimized and subject to rigorous privacy protections. Giving police the power to store the vast amount of information available from cellphones poses numerous privacy concerns in terms of data retention, security breaches, and mission creep. Share this page:.

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Defend Privacy. Donate Now. Riley v. McCurry , stating that teachers may not search a student's cell phone unless they have followed an explicit school policy that complies with Fourth Amendment requirements.

Privacy, School Searches and Student Drug Testing

Citing a recent Supreme Court opinion, EPIC explained, "after Riley, searches of students' cell phones require heightened privacy protections. California , arguing that the search of a cellphone requires a warrant, and Commonwealth v. White , a case before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, arguing that a warrant is required before a school may turn over a student's cell phone to the police. Both cases produced favorable outcomes.

The Supreme Court has agreed to review two Fourth Amendment car search cases.

In Collins v. Virginia , the Court will decide whether police can search a vehicle parked in the driveway of a private home without first obtaining a warrant. In Byrd v. United States , the Court will decide whether a person driving a rental car loses their expectation of privacy in the vehicle solely because they are not the official driver on the rental agreement. The Court is already set to hear Carpenter v. United States this fall, a major Fourth Amendment case about warrantless searches of cell phone location data.

EPIC filed a "friend-of-the-court" brief in that case urging the Court to extend Constitutional protection to cell phone data. Strieff , Los Angeles v. Patel , and Riley v.

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