Belmont Law Review


In determining whether an officer’s use of the Emergency function of a phone is a search, it is important first to lay a foundation for why the Constitution provides protection against searches in the first place. Part I of this Note will provide a brief overview of why the Fourth Amendment was adopted, and what rights it is intended to protect. Next, it is impossible to know whether use of Emergency would qualify as a search unless we know how a search is defined. Part II of this Note will examine the tests that have developed over the years, namely the Katz test and the Jones test, which give the prevailing framework for determining whether a search has taken place. Part III will show how these tests have been adapted and made applicable to modern technology in our digital age. Technology has presented courts with a variety of legal issues to sort through and, though the question of Emergency use has not been settled at a circuit court level, related issues have already found their way into appellate jurisdiction. In Part IV, this Note will give a summation of what have come to be called the “MagStripe” cases, and will show how the legal questions at issue in those cases could come to bear heavily on the fate of Emergency use in future prosecutions. To conclude, Part V will address how the culmination of the case law indicates that police use of Emergency is not a search under the Fourth Amendment.