Warrantless Cell Phone Search

Password protect your smartphone, ladies and gentlemen: the First District Court of Appeals in Florida has held that police can search your cell phone for information after arresting you. The case, Smallwood v. State, involved a robbery suspect who had his phone detained by officers at the time of arrest. Police had no reason to suspect his phone might contain evidence, however they searched it anyway and found pictures of the suspect with robbery contraband. At trial, the evidence was suppressed. However the appellate court held that the police had every right to browse through the contents of the suspect’s cell phone at the time of arrest:

“The Supreme Court has clearly and repeatedly found that anything found on an arrestee or within an arrestee’s immediate control may be searched and inspected upon arrest. There is nothing in the language of any of these cases that would permit this court to find an exception for cell phones.”

What does this mean for you? If you are arrested, officers can search your phone and look at anything in it – texts, pictures, call log, browsing history, etc. Our suggestion? Password protect your phone and delete anything you would not want the police to see.

The information on your phone could be used against you in a variety of ways. Arrested for possession of marijuana? Cops could look through your call log and take down the numbers of potential dealers you had called. Arrested for DUI? You had better believe cops will be checking your text messages for phrases like “meet me the bar at 9.” There are any number of ways the information you exchange with friends and family could be used against you in a court of law.

Be safe out there. Password protect your phone and remember that big brother is watching! Stay tuned to our blog for breaking criminal law news. Taracks & Associates – The Advocate For You.

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