Article for Officers and Others on Search Warrants for Digital Devices

Years ago, the School of Government did quite a bit of training for the Highway Patrol and other law enforcement officers. These days, we focus most of our criminal law courses on judges, lawyers, and magistrates. But I still view officers as an important audience for our work, and I recently wrote an article for Police Chief magazine that is meant to help officers obtain valid search warrants for digital devices.

The first paragraph of the article pretty well sums up its purpose:

The U.S. Supreme Court recently observed that digital devices “have become important tools [for] … criminal enterprises, and can provide valuable incriminating information about dangerous criminals.” Law enforcement officers need to know how to obtain that information lawfully, so that it may be used in court. But the rules for digital searches sometimes differ from those for physical searches, and the law regarding digital searches is evolving rapidly. This article is a practical guide to obtaining and executing a valid search warrant for a digital device.

I imagine that not every officer subscribes to Police Chief, so I thought I’d flag the availability of the article, which is available online for free. Though written for officers, it’s also of possible interest to judges and lawyers, and I included a fair amount of footnotes with citations to legal authority.

1 thought on “Article for Officers and Others on Search Warrants for Digital Devices”

  1. Thanks for sending this out. I just had a jury trial last week from an arrest that was 2 and a half years ago. The defendant had incriminating text messages on his phone and I used those text messages as part of my evidence. The judge ruled in a motion to suppress hearing that the Riley decision could be considered for my case and the text messages were not allowed. The ADA was still able to get a guilty verdict but the text messages would have helped.


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