Issue of Cell Phones in Legal Cases Case Study

Riley v. California case, outlining, in particular, the method adopted for investigating the defendant’s phone, alternative means of investigation, and an analysis of the practicality/legitimacy of investigating cell phones.

The police stopped defendant, Riley, for breaking a traffic rule; the ultimate result of this event was Riley being detained for weapon possession. An official who searched Riley following the arrest got hold of the latter’s smartphone. Upon browsing through the phone, the officer observed the recurrent usage of a word linked to a criminal street gang. A couple of hours later, a detective, who was an expert in gang-related crime investigation, conducted a thorough examination of the digital content present in the offender’s phone, at the station (RILEY v. CALIFORNIA, n.d). Partly based on videos and pictures found by the detective, Riley was indicted by the State for playing a part in a shooting incident that had taken place some weeks previously. A bigger sentence was sought, owing to the defendant being a gangster. Riley made a move to quash all proof garnered by the police via his phone. However, the motion was denied by court, which found Riley guilty. This ruling was supported by the California Court of Appeal.

Methods Used to Investigate Phone

Riley was searched by an official following his arrest. Incriminating items that could be traced to the street gang — “Bloods” — were found in his possession. Further, a search of his pant pockets uncovered a smartphone (a phone with multiple advanced functions, owing to superior computing ability, web connectivity, and huge storage capacity), a fact confirmed by Riley. The official stumbled upon suspicious information, including some words (possibly tagged to contacts or as part of the content of text messages), which were prefixed by “CK” — a code word that, according to him, meant “Crip Killers” — slang for Bloods gang members (RILEY V. CALIFORNIA, n.d).

Alternative Methods

A cell phone’s physical elements can be examined for ascertaining whether or not it might be employed in the form of a weapon. While relatively simple and basic, the authority granted by the Supreme Court for physical investigation of a potential offender’s cell phone functions as a safeguard, protecting the law enforcer, often an investigator or responding officer, from instant and apparent harm (Moore, et. al, 2014). Another allowable practice indicates that police officials worried about the likelihood of remote erasing of incriminating content…