Law Essay Example: The Riley v. California (2014) Sase

Published: 2022-08-01
Law Essay Example: The Riley v. California (2014) Sase
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Court system
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1028 words
9 min read

Main Issue before the Court

The Riley v. California (2014) case is amongst the significant landmark in the United States Supreme Court cases. The trial included a public court case that held that the warrantless search and seizure of any digital content in a mobile phone is not constitutional. The situation erupted as a result of a split between federal courts following a cell phone incident. Riley was convicted about a shooting related crime or offense after a significant amount of evidence sieved from his phones was used against him in court. Later on, Riley files a motion to suppress which was turned down and then delivers an appeal to the state's court of appeals with the claim that the confiscation and search of his cellphone violated his rights according to the Fourth Amendment. In the progress of the Supreme Court case, an ultimate decision was made following references to the amendments although the occurrence stirred mixed feelings. The Supreme Court delivered a stand that the government may not provide conduction of a warrantless search of a mobile or cell phone's details and content that is seized after an arrest. Different courts considered the decision differently since there was a series of event with the incidents leading to Riley's arrest. Riley, along with an individual in a similar position, Wurie petitioned the Supreme Court in a consolidated court case (Peters, 2015).

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Facts of the Case

Police officers pulled over Riley following a traffic violation, which later on led to his arrest about a shooting that had occurred and charges relating to weapons. After his arrest, the officers searched his car and him and seized a phone from his pocket which they later used. During a trial, details retrieved from his cell phones were introduced in the shooting related charge and used against his which led Riley's conviction. Later on, Riley delivered an appeal for his sentence in the Californian state court of appeal and the California appellate courts upheld the verdict (Ohm, 2015).

On the other hand, Wurie, another defendant had his flip phone seized in an arrest. After the confiscation, the officers used the items they took in the device to acquire a search warrant to search Wurie's home. Later on, Wurie delivered an appeal after the district court admitted the evidence captures at his homestead. Within the developments of the case, the court of appeal found that the presented evidence was from an illegal seizure and exploration of a phone. However, both cases were consolidated, and the United States Supreme Court granted Certiorari (Ohm, 2015).

The Decision of the Court

Following the proceeding of the case, the district court allowed the introduction of evidence; however, on appeal, the court of appeals reversed the details as the Supreme Court granted certiorari. The occurrence raised the question as to whether the government may search for the content of a cellphone seized after an arrest without a warrant and no existence of exigent circumstances. In the decision concerning the case, the federal courts of appeals' judgment are affirmed, and the opinion of the state court of appeals reversed.

The Reasons for the Decision

On a general view relating to the rule of law, officers must obtain a warrant before searching for any contents of a phone device that is seized incident to an arrest according to the Fourth Amendment. In case the contents of a cellphone are searched without a warrant, the Fourth Amendment violation occurs. Exceptions to search an individual incident to an arrest is only valid to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. It is an exception granted for officer safety and for the sake of preventing evidence destruction. The court held that the moment an officer secures a phone device, there is little or no risk of damage or destruction of any shreds of evidence. As the proceeding of the court case proceeded, it asserted that although an individual's privacy right is diminished upon their arrest, the situation is not treated as a complete deprivation. Thus, searching the data of a cell phone without a warrant is a significant violation of privacy rights as a result of the quantity and quality of information that may be stored in the gadget. As a result, the reasoning delivers significant details leading to the decision if the appeal court case.

Position of Concurring or Dissenting Opinions

In the view of such cases relating to the violation of privacy rights, the history concerning the searching and incident to arrest exception is majorly based on tangible and probative evidence than officer safety of destruction of evidence. On the other hand, most of the individuals hold that these rules of physical search do not apply to cell phone contents. In the court case, (Riley v. California) it established that the search and use of information retrieved from a phone is not a proper search incident to an instance of arrest. As a result of information contained in a mobile, a search warrant should be obtained before any search of content.

My Position

To sum everything up, I believe that the privacy right is critical for every individual especially of cases of cell phones thus a search warrant is paramount. On the other hand, other physical searches may not require an authorization. Correspondingly, a warrantless search of a phone is justified in case there are reasons to believe that the cell phone may contain evidence to an incident of arrest, applies to a search of motor vehicles and is not applicable to a cell phone. Regardless, there are many details concerning the case rather than the validity of the cell phone search (such as actual evidence) that delivers a fruitful case. Thus, I believe the court made the right decision following the details of the Fourth Amendment and adding that there would not be much of a difference even if there were a warrant for a search.


Ohm, P. (2015). The Life of Riley (v. California). Tex. Tech L. Rev., 48, 133.

Peters, J. B. (2015). CRIMINAL PROCEDURE-More Protection for Digital Information? The Supreme Court Holds Warrantless Cell Phone Searches do not Fall Under the Search Incident to Arrest Exception; Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473 (2014). Wyoming Law Review, 15(2), 3.

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