Can Police Legally Take Information From Your Phone?

Generally speaking, the police cannot search your cell phone and take information from the device without a valid warrant. You may be arrested and put through booking procedures, but police officers cannot search your texts, e-mails, phone logs, and photos without having a valid search warrant signed by a neutral and detached magistrate.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects all United States citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement officers. The Supreme Court of the United States held in June of 2014 that searching the contents of a phone without obtaining a search warrant beforehand violates the Fourth Amendment.

Contact a Manchester criminal defense lawyer from Berman & Russo if you need legal representation for criminal charges or related to a law enforcement officer conducting an unlawful search or seizure of your mobile phone.

Can Police Officers Make You Give Them Your Mobile Phone?

Police officers cannot seize your mobile phone because your phone is personal property, and the police officers must have a valid warrant to seize it or search through its contents. It does not matter if the digital records are owned by third-party phone carriers. United States citizens possess a right to privacy, and this extends to digital information contained on a mobile phone.

Under specific circumstances, police officers might be able to seize a mobile phone or digital records without having a warrant. For example, if police officers have probable cause to believe that a mobile phone may contain information regarding child abduction, then the officers do not need a warrant. Also, if the officers want your phone records to investigate an imminent emergency such as a bomb threat, then the police may search the mobile phone without a warrant.

Police officers have the legal authority to ask to look at a mobile phone, but you do not have to give any police officer consent to search through your phone. It is usually best not to give the officer’s consent to search anything, including what is on your mobile phone.

If the police officers do have a search warrant, then you should verify the scope of the warrant. Every warrant must list the place to be searched and the items to be seized, and officers generally cannot look through all the information contained on your phone, even with a warrant. You should understand what the warrant authorizes and what it does not authorize.

May Police Officers Access Mobile Phone Records?

Cell phone carriers maintain meticulous records based on your mobile phone use. Police officers must serve a search warrant on a particular mobile phone carrier to access the information contained in the mobile phone records. To get the warrant, the officers must demonstrate that they have probable cause to believe that the mobile phone user committed a crime and that the mobile phone records will reveal information about the crime.

Police officers cannot obtain the information contained on your mobile phone without a warrant. However, police officers can use any information that other people give them regarding your mobile phone use. For instance, if you send an underage person a particular photograph and that underage person gives the image to the police, then metadata is admissible in court.

Contact a Manchester Criminal Defense Lawyer at Berman & Russo Today

If you need help from a Manchester criminal defense attorney, contact Berman & Russo today. You can schedule a consultation and we can discuss the facts of your situation and the best defenses that may apply to your case.