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I was pulled over. The police reached into my truck, and pulled out my cellphone and searched it. I was not read my rights.

San Bruno, CA |

Is it legal for the police to search my cellphone when I am pulled over on a traffic stop? What is the law in California?
Additional info. I was arrested for a 5 year old warrant. At the time they searched my cellphone I was in cuffs but I was only being detained. They did not read me my rights until 2 hours after my cellphone was searched.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. The police do not need a search warrant to look through your phone, but I would certainly argue they need probable cause. They do not have to read you your rights ever. This only becomes an issue if you are questioned after being placed in custody. If you have not been Mirandized, the answers to those questions would not be admissible in court.

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  2. People v. Nottoli 199 Cal.App.4th 531 (2011) The Nottoli court than goes into an analysis of search and seizure law, starting with Chimel, then Belton, then Thornton, and Arizona v. Gant (2009) 129 S.Ct. 1710, and ends with the following understanding: that vehicles and their compartments can be searched incident to an arrest (even if the arrestee is already in custody) when “it is reasonable to believe that evidence of the offense of arrest might be found in the vehicle.” Id. at 1714.
    People v. Diaz (2011), 165 Cal. App. 4th 732, cell phone is searched 90 minutes after arrest. NOTE this is AFTER the arrest (and long after the search was complete).

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