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The Fourth Amendment protects against warrantless searches of misplaced cellphones

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Bill of Rights. (From the public domain.)

Kudos to Colorado’s Supreme Court, for confirming this week that the Fourth Amendment protects against searches of misplaced cellphones. Colorado v. Schutter, ___ Co. ___ (March 28, 2011).  

Schutter leaves open the possibility of a police cellphone review for nothing more than identifying the phone’s owner so that the owner may recover it. Beyond such a limited cellphone review, Schutter confirms that the Fourth Amendment prevents a warrantless search of a cellphone that has not been intentionally abandoned, and addresses some factors to consider in determining whether the cellphone has been abandoned.

Thanks to a fellow listserv member for having provided the text of Schutter.