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Can Police Search Your Cell Phone, and Even Break Your Password, During An Arrest?
By Adam M. Gershowitz
This is a condensed version of a previously published article. Adam M. Gershowitz, Password Protected? Can a Password Save Your Cell Phone From a Search Incident to Arrest?, 96 Iowa L. Rev. 1125 (2011) (reprinted with permission).
Over the last decade, cell phone use has exploded. Many Americans now carry incredible amounts of information in their phones, including pictures, documents, music, text messages, and emails. Not surprisingly, the fact that cell phones are carried in public and hold enormous amounts of data has made them attractive targets for law enforcement.
In recent years, prosecutors have sought to admit evidence from cell phone searches based on the search incident to arrest doctrine. That doctrine — which has been used by police on the street for decades — allows police to conduct a complete search of the items on an arrestee following any custodial arrest. Searching cell phones following an arrest obviously gives law enforcement access to far m
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