Can the Police Just Take My Mobile Phone?
Your mobile device contains an immense amount of personal information. This information may include photos, call and text logs, bank information, and more. All of this information can provide a lot of information about us, and if it falls into the wrong hands it could get us into a lot of trouble.
If you are a suspect in a criminal investigation, you have the right to remain silent, but can your phones still speak for you? Is law enforcement permitted to require that you turn over your mobile device so they may search that device for information, and possibly use that information against you?
Am I Required to Give the Police My Phone?
The short answer is no. Because your mobile device(s) are your property, the police can’t simply seize them. To obtain appropriate access to your device, they need to first secure a warrant. Similarly, if law enforcement wants access to your phone records, they must also first secure a warrant allowing such access.. This does not mean that the police won’t ask for your phone or for your permission to search your phone, however, it does mean that in most situations you are not required to consent to such a search or seizure without an appropriate warrant.
However, it is important to note that in some situations the police can access your phone and phone records without having a warrant. For example, if a bomb threat was received from your phone, or a child abduction occurs wherein you are implicated in some manner, they don’t need a warrant to search your device(s) immediately
Additionally, at the federal offense level, federal officers are not required to have a warrant to obtain your phone records, and your cell phone carrier doesn’t have to inform you if your records have been given to a federal agency.
Do I Have to Provide My Password or Unlock My Phone?
If the police have already taken your phone, but do not have your password or access information, you are not required to provide them with that information. In that situation, he Fifth Amendment would apply, as it is generally considered self-incrimination to be forced to provide this information.
However, keep in mind that just because you’re not willing give law enforcement the password or unlock your device doesn’t mean they won’t be able to access the information. Police departments have developed increasingly sophisticated software to access phones for which they do not have a password or login information.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing criminal charges or believe you are being investigated for criminal charges, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. In today’s day and age our mobile devices are essentially an extension of us, and while we like to think our privacy is protected on these devices, that isn’t always the case.
While you can, and should expect a certain amount of privacy, that privacy is limited, and some areas of these laws are still being scrutinized, written, and tested. If you feel as though your rights are being infringed upon, contact the Orlando criminal attorneys at O’Mara Law Group today to schedule a consultation.