Your cell phone contains a considerable amount of private and sensitive data, and access to this data can be a considerable intrusion of privacy. However, some law enforcement offices seek to gain access to your cell phone after your arrest to look for evidence. Florida courts, however, are working to protect your privacy and block police officers from accessing your phone without a warrant. Here is what you should know when it comes to a search of your cell phone.
Your Fourth Amendment Rights
You have the right to be protected from unlawful search and seizure, as outlined by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Your home, vehicle, cell phone, and computer are all protected by these rights. As a general rule, police may only search your belongings after they have received your consent or have obtained a warrant from a judge. A warrant will be issued based on a sworn affidavit of probable cause. There are a few circumstances that are exceptions, but they are not common.
Do Not Consent to a Search
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to politely refuse to give consent to a search. It is possible that the police will still search, but the search may not be considered legal if you did not agree to the search. Often, police will ask to search without telling you that you have the right to refuse your consent to a search. If you decline to consent to a search of your cell phone, the officers will be forced to present probable cause to obtain a warrant. If they still search your phone, it is likely that your lawyer will be able to successfully have any evidence found suppressed during your trial.
If a law enforcement officer cannot obtain your consent to a search, they much acquire a search warrant from a judge. In order for a warrant to be issued, the judge must be presented with a strong statement probable cause. There are some situations in which an officer may search your phone without a warrant.
An officer can legally search without a warrant if:
- The owner gives consent.
- The evidence is in plain view, such as an incriminating picture on the phone’s screen.
- The search occurred on public school property.
- The police are in pursuit of a suspect and believe the suspect can easily destroy evidence related to the reason for the chase.
What Should I Do If My Phone is Searched?
If an officer searches your phone without a warrant or your consent, do not resist the search or fight back. This can cause other legal troubles for you. Instead, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately, so they can begin investigating your case. Your rights may have been violated, and if the illegal search resulted in evidence that was used to charge you with a crime, your lawyer can help you get the illegal evidence dismissed from the case.
Our Orlando criminal defense attorney is standing by to help you with your case. At The Wiseman Law Firm, we are supported by more than 15 years of legal experience, and we are dedicated to helping our clients receive fair and just treatment. With aggressive representation, meticulous research, and carefully prepared defense, you can trust that we will fight for your best interests in your case.