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Can Police Search Your Phone?

November 14th, 2019 at 10:58 am

searchImagine police pulled you over in a traffic stop. Maybe they suspect you of a DUI, or maybe they want to cite you for having a broken taillight. Whatever the reason, they approach your window and begin to question you. They may even become aggressive and demand that you hand over your phone. Perhaps they even order you to unlock it for them or provide them with your password. This is a scary situation, as everyone has personal and confidential information on their phones these days. The question is, are police allowed to search your phone?

U.S. Supreme Court Decides on Cell Phone Searches

In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Riley v. California. The defendant had been stopped by police for expired registration tags on his vehicle. During the stop, the officer also learned that the defandant’s driver’s license was suspended and that he was carrying a number of firearms in his car. The officer also took his phone, which the officer claimed had further incriminating evidence on it.

The Supreme Court found in favor of the defendant and determined that police do not have the authority to search a person’s phone. The reason given for this was that modern smartphones have a wealth of information about a person. By accessing your phone, a person could determine where you live, work, what your Social Security number is, and more. The court determined this was an invasion of privacy.

However, although the Supreme Court made this ruling several years ago, there are still some instances in which police can search your phone.

When Can Police Search Your Phone?

Under the Fourth Amendment, all American citizens are protected from unlawful search and seizures. However, if law enforcement has probable cause that your phone contains evidence of a crime, they can obtain a search warrant for your phone. If a judge determines there is probable cause and issues a search warrant, you will have to relinquish your phone so law enforcement can search it.

The only time law enforcement can search your phone without a warrant is when you provide your consent. Police officers often try to get around this by demanding, instead of asking for your phone. They do so in a way that makes individuals feel as though they do not have a choice. Unfortunately, in these instances, if you give police your phone and unlock it to grant them access, even begrudgingly, you have given consent and the police can search your phone.

It is extremely important that you never give police your phone unless they have a warrant. When consent is provided, it could hurt your case if police do in fact find evidence to use against you.

Did Police Unlawfully Search Your Phone? Call Our Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer

When police unlawfully search your phone, any evidence obtained from that search is inadmissible in court. This provides a solid defense for many offenses, including distracted driving. If you have been charged with a crime after police searched your phone, you need the help of a skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer. At the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley, an attorney will always ensure your rights are upheld, and he will also get illegally obtained evidence thrown out of court. If you are facing charges, call us today at 847-394-3200 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Source:

https://scholar.google.ca/scholar_case?case=9647156672357738355&hl=en&as_sdt=6&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr

 

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Written by Staff Writer

November 14th, 2019 at 10:58 am

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