Jon Katz, P.C.

The Fourth Amendment protects against warrantless searches of misplaced cellphones


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.