When can the Police search your Cell Phone?

The short answer is: it depends. If the police have a warrant for your cell phone or an exception to a warrant, then yes. If the search has already occurred, you can challenge the legality of the search and the admissibility of evidence resulting from the search. Generally speaking, a warrant is valid if it is filed in good faith by a law enforcement officer; it is based on reliable information showing probable cause to search; it is issued by a neutral and detached magistrate; and it states with particularity the place to be searched and the items to be seized. Simply stated, the cops need a good reason to file a warrant for your phone, including facts to back that reason up.

Without a warrant, a police officer needs an exception to the warrant requirement to search your cell phone. There are a few exceptions to the warrant requirement that apply to cell phones. If you consent to a search of your cell phone, a police officer can search your phone up until the time that you revoke that consent, no questions asked. If the cops arrest you, they can search you, including your pockets, and the area within your immediate control. If the police come across your phone in that search, they probably still need a warrant to search through your phone, unless there is some reason to believe that the phone’s data will be deleted and evidence will be destroyed shortly thereafter or the cops can prove that they reasonably believed they were in immediate danger relating to the content of that cell phone.

If the cops don’t have a warrant to search your phone, that search is presumed to be an illegal search and all of the evidence obtained could be thrown out. If this is the only evidence against you, your whole case could be thrown out. Even if the cops do have a warrant, the experienced attorneys at Stowers & Sarcone can assess the validity of that warrant. If you or a loved one is found in such a situation, do not hesitate to call us at Stowers and Sarcone Law Firm at 515.224.7446. Our experienced attorneys provide dedicated and experienced representation.

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