When are police allowed to search your cellphone?

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2020 | Uncategorized

Nowadays, it is likely that you almost always have your cellphone with you. After all, your cellphone not only keeps you connected to the world, but holds essential information, including photos or even banking apps, only to name a few.

With all of this personal information readily available on your phone, many people worry about what happens if they are pulled over by police – or even arrested. Can police search your phone?

Police must have a warrant

In 2014, a landmark ruling from the United States Supreme Court determined that your cellphone is unlike any other typical item you might carry on your person. The Court ruled that with all of the private information your phone contains, it is more like your home than just another object.

Therefore, both federal and state laws do not allow police to search your phone unless:

  1. You consent to a search; or
  2. They have a valid warrant.

Texas law even determined that police must have a probable cause – and even a warrant – to search through your cellphone even after they make an arrest. There are certain exceptions, such as an emergency or imminent danger. However, generally, police need a warrant to search your cellphone.

Protecting your right to privacy is critical

Knowing your rights is important – especially in this digital age. You have rights to privacy and security under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. And you must protect and exercise these rights if you face criminal charges.

For example:

  • You do not have to consent to a search
  • You can – and should – ask to see the warrant
  • You do not have to assist police in any search
  • You do not have to talk to the police without an attorney present

Police may try to deceive you into providing information. That is why it is essential to understand all of the rights you have to protect yourself – and your future.

In these cases, it is often beneficial to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to better understand your rights in these situations.