OTTAWA – A divided Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that police can conduct a limited search of suspect’s cellphone without getting a search warrant, but they must follow strict rules. By a 4-3 margin, the court said in a precedent-setting ruling that the search must be directly related to the circumstances of a person's arrest and the police must keep detailed records of the search. Three dissenting justices said the police must get a search warrant in all cases except in rare instances where there is a danger to the public or the police, or if evidence could be destroyed. It is the first Supreme Court ruling on cellphone privacy, an issue that has spawned a series of divergent lower court rulings. READ MORE: What rules must police follow to search a cellphone during arrest? The high court dismissed the appeal of the 2009 armed robbery conviction of Kevin Fearon, who argued unsuccessfully that police violated his charter rights when they searched his cellphone without a warrant after he’d robbed a Toronto jewelry kiosk. The court agreed that the police had in fact breached Fearon’s rights, but the evidence against him on his cellphone should not be excluded. “The police simply did something that they believed on reasonable grounds to be lawful and were proven wrong, after the fact, by developments in the jurisprudence,” Justice Thomas Cromwell wrote for the majority. “That is an honest mistake, reasonably made, not state misconduct that requires exclusion of evidence.” Cromwell said the court was trying to strike a balance between the demands of effective law enforcement and the public’s right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures under Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.