Warrantless Searches

News & Analysis as of

California Bill Requiring Mobile, Cloud Search Warrants Advances

On July 14, 2015, the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“Cal-ECPA”) unanimously passed the California State Assembly’s public safety committee. The bill would forbid warrantless cellular “stingrays” as well...more

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Privacy Rights for Los Angeles Hotel Operators

In a win for privacy advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a City of Los Angeles municipal ordinance permitting warrantless police searches of hotel registries is unconstitutional. The subject ordinance (Los Angeles...more

Supreme Court Invalidates Los Angeles Law Authorizing Warrantless Searches of Hotel Records

In City of Los Angeles v. Patel, the Supreme Court invalidated a Los Angeles law that allowed law enforcement officials to inspect hotel and motel guest registries at any time, without a warrant or administrative subpoena....more

City of Los Angeles v. Patel — US Supreme Court voids LA ordinance requiring hotel operators to turn over guest records on demand

US Supreme Court voids Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotel operators to turn over guest records on demand. In a 5-4 opinion rendered on June 22, 2015, the United States Supreme Court held that a Los Angeles municipal...more

Supreme Court Strikes Down Warrantless Searches of Hotel Guest Registries

Hotels possess a treasure trove of private information about their guests. Everything from the guest’s name, address, credit card and vehicle information to the number of guests in the party, arrival and departure dates and...more

Supreme Court Decides City of Los Angeles v. Patel

On June 22, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided City of Los Angeles v. Patel, No. 13-1175, holding that facial challenges can be brought under the Fourth Amendment and that a municipal ordinance requiring hotel operators to...more

City of Los Angeles vs. Patel Update: U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Warrantless Searches of Guest Registries

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a law enacted by the City of Los Angeles requiring hotel owners to comply with warrantless inspections of their guest registries upon demand by law enforcement officers. The High Court,...more

Warrantless Laptop Search Suppressed In Sixth Circuit

On May 20, 2015, the Sixth Circuit ruled that the warrantless search of a laptop exceeded the scope of a preceding private search, and was therefore unconstitutional....more

Federal Agents Lacked Authority to Search Airplane Passenger’s Laptop, Court Says

A federal court this month found that federal agents lacked authority to conduct a warrantless search of a defendant’s laptop seized at an airport, rejecting the government’s argument that it has unfettered authority to...more

Warrantless Searches of Text Messages: Big Brother in 160 Character Installments

The modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence surrounding warrantless searches of text messaging is varied and evolving, including issues currently facing Rhode Island and the rest of the nation. My paper focused primarily upon...more

Supreme Court Update: Rodriguez v. United States (13-9972); United States v. Wong (13-1074 And 13-7075); Oneok, Inc. v. Learjet,...

When is a sniff not up to snuff (as far as the Fourth Amendment is concerned)? Ten years ago, in Illinois v. Caballes (2005), the Court held that a dog sniff conducted during a lawful traffic stop does not violate the Fourth...more

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Prolonging Traffic Stop to Conduct Dog Sniff is Unconstitutional

Overview: Police may not extend a routine traffic stop to give a police dog time to conduct a search for narcotics, the United States Supreme Court held this week. The Court determined that, absent reasonable suspicion,...more

Riley and the Third-party Doctrine

On June 25, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued one groundbreaking opinion in two cases regarding cellphone searches incident to arrest. In a unanimous opinion, the court held that under the Fourth Amendment, police must...more

Federal Court Finds Hotel Room Ruse Violated Fourth Amendment

In a case testing the boundaries of how far the government can go when creating a ruse to access a suspect’s premises, a U.S. District Court in Nevada concluded that the government’s disruption of internet service to a hotel...more

Supreme Court Decides Rodriguez v. United States

On April 21, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Rodriguez v. United States, No. 13-9972, holding that, absent reasonable suspicion, the Fourth Amendment prohibits police from prolonging a traffic stop to conduct a dog...more

Court strikes down California’s “collect on arrest” DNA collection law

In November 2004, California enacted a law requiring that anyone arrested for a felony have their DNA collected. This amounted to a significant expansion of the prior law that allowed for collection of DNA after conviction. ...more

Searching Student Smart Phones in The Wake of Riley V. California

In the recent, landmark case of Riley v. California, the United States Supreme Court held that the police may not search digital data on the cell phone of an arrestee without a warrant, reasoning that smart phones not only...more

Drone on Drones: The (Dated) Law of the Skies

In the 1980s, the Supreme Court issued two decisions that remain the prevailing authority on law enforcement’s practice of warrantless, aerial surveillance. In California v. Ciraolo, the Court held that a police officer...more

Can the Police Look at My Cell Phone Without a Warrant? #CriminalDefenseAttorney

For the past century, the United States Supreme Court has given the police the right to search (without a warrant) a person who has been legally arrested. See Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383, 392 (1914). Unfortunately,...more

Court protects privacy in ruling on warrantless searches of cellphones

Every now and then The Nine agree on something. Among the unanimous rulings the U.S. Supreme Court issued in the final stretch this year was Riley v. California, which held that law enforcement officials may not make a...more

Fourth Amendment Precludes Inspection Of Private Property Even In Assessment Review Litigation

Recently there has been increasing debate regarding if and when assessing jurisdictions, or its agents, can invade the privacy of New York residents. Even New York’s governor has been impacted by this issue. Last week, the...more

Second Circuit Finds Fourth Amendment Violation in Law Enforcement Retention of Computer Files Not Within Scope of Search Warrant

On June 17, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a significant Fourth Amendment decision in United States v. Ganias. The decision is premised on the well-established notion that, because of...more

Courts Defer to Individual Privacy Interests by Requiring Warrant To Obtain Cell Phone Data and Cell Site Records in Riley and...

Two recent opinions have significantly restricted the practice of warrantless collection of data stored on cell phones or by cell phone service providers. In Riley v. California the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that a warrant...more

Five Lessons for Employers from California v. Riley

In the waning days of its current term, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in California v. Riley that police officers generally violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches by conducting a...more

ESOPs’ Fables: On Winning Wars but Losing Battles

As the end of the Supreme Court term approached, decisions came down fast and furious. Last week’s big decisions, at least around our nerdish water cooler, were Halliburton and Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer. (Yes, we...more

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