Prior Publisher

The Association of Digital Forensics, Security and Law (ADFSL)


Riley v. California is the United States Supreme Court’s first attempt to regulate the searches of cell phones by law enforcement. The 2014 unanimous decision requires a warrant for all cell phone searches incident to arrest absent an emergency. This work summarizes the legal precedent and analyzes the limitations and practical implications of the ruling. General guidelines for members of the criminal justice system at all levels consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision are provided.


PA.C.S. § 6312 (2014).

U.S.C. § 1030 (2008).

American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2498 (2014).

American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo, Inc., Oral Arguments, 134 S.Ct. 2498 (2014).

Ayers, R., Brothers, S., & Jansen, W. (2013). Guidelines on mobile device forensics (draft). National Institute of Standards and Technology, Special Publication 800-101. Retrieved from http://www.nist.gov/forensics/research/upload/draft-guidelines-on-mobile-device-forensics.pdf.

Birkhold, M.H. (2013) Freud on the court: Re-interpreting sexting & child pornography laws. 23 Fordham Intell. Prop. Media & Ent. L.J. 897.

Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752 (1969).

City of Ontario v. Quon, 130 S.Ct. 2619 (2010).

City of Ontario v. Quon, Oral Argument, 130 S.Ct. 2619 (2010).

Hurley, L. (2014, May 9). In U.S., when high-tech meets high court, high jinks ensue. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/


Logiurato, B. (2013, April 22). Justice Scalia did not know you can’t get HBO for free. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/scalia-hbo-aereo-case-supreme-court-2014-4.

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Myers, B. (2014, June 25). Supreme court: Police need warrant to search cell phones. CNN Justice. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/25/justice/supreme-court-cell-phones/.

Riley v. California, 134 S.Ct. 2473 (2014).

Riley v. California, Oral Argument, 134 S.Ct. 2473 (2014).

Rubin, J. (2014, April 23). Supreme court justices have their heads in the cloud(s). The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2014/04/23/supreme-court-justices-have-their-heads-in-the-clouds/.

Serwer, A. (2014, April 29). Justices split on cops’ right to search cell phones. MSNBC. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/cops-may-soon-be-free-search-your-iphone.

Smith, M.R. (2013, August 20). Kagan: Court hasn’t really ‘gotten to’ email. Associated Press. Retrieved from http://bigstory.ap.org/article/kagan-justices-not-tech-savvy-send-paper- memos.

The first mobile phone call was placed 40 years ago today. (2013, April 3). FoxNews. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/04/03/first-mobile-phone-call-was-placed-40-years-ago-today/.

United States Department of Justice. (2004). Forensic examination of digital evidence: A guide for law enforcement (Publication Number NCJ 199408). Washington, DC. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/199408.pdf.

U.S. v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1, 15 (1977).

U.S. v. Schlingloff, 901 F.Supp.2d 1101 (C.D. Ill. 2012).



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