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Consent to Examine Mobile Phone Was Valid

Consent is one of the specific exceptions to the general requirement that law enforcement authorities must have a valid search warrant prior to a constitutional search (where there is also a reasonable expectation of privacy). Under Tennessee law, a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the person's cell phone in his or her possession (an abandoned phone may be a different story). A police officer may only search the contents of the phone if there is a valid search warrant to do so or if one of the recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement is present. In the recent case of State v. Kohlmeyer, M2014-01359-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 7-7-2015), the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court decision that an examination of the defendant's cell phone was valid, due to the defendant having consented to it.

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