Angelina County authority responds to Supreme Court ruling

Police need warrant to search cell phones after new Supreme Court ruling (Source: KTRE Staff)
Police need warrant to search cell phones after new Supreme Court ruling (Source: KTRE Staff)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A new Supreme Court decision has ruled that police can no longer search a suspect's cell phone without first obtaining a search warrant.

The ruling comes after two court cases tested the right to privacy when being investigated by police.

"It's not going to stop us from obtaining the information; it will simply add another step," said Angelina County Sheriff's Office, Lt. Pete Maskunas.

Maskunas said he doesn't really see a problem with the new ruling.

"I don't see a problem with that. If we are professional officers doing our jobs, then we are going to establish probable cause and do what we need to do. If the probable cause isn't there, then we shouldn't be doing it in the first place," Maskunas said.

In fact, he said his agency has been issuing warrants for cell phones for some time.

"The majority of the time when we get a cell phone, we go get a warrant just as a matter of safety," Maskunas said.

Before the new ruling, if a suspect was taken into custody and had a cell phone on them, investigators could take that cell phone and go through it without getting a warrant.

The Supreme Court's ruling stated cell phones are powerful devices, unlike anything else police may find on someone they arrest.

"We use cell phones to a degree in almost every case we work. There is probably not a case that we have a suspect involved in that we don't have some way to link their cell phone to some activity related to the case," Maskunas said.

Maskunas said even though his job won't be changing, the district judges will be getting a lot more work on their plates.

"The district judges are going to get busier because they are the ones that are going to have to sign the warrants," Maskunas said.

The only thing that will be changing at the sheriff's office is the technology they use to decipher through the cell phones.

Copyright 2014 KTRE. All rights reserved.