If you come under suspicion for a serious crime, whether for health care fraud, drug offenses or embezzlement, at some point police may request to search your phone as part of their investigation. However, just as when police may ask to search your residence, you don’t have to voluntarily agree to allow police to search your phone. You can demand they secure a warrant first.
What you should know about warrants
Making police secure a warrant is part of protecting your Fourth Amendment rights. Those rights protect Americans from unreasonable searches and property seizures. To obtain a warrant, police must show that they have a probable cause to search your phone because of a possible crime.
Any warrant police obtain for a cell phone should list specifically what data and records the police will search. Will they review all your photographs? Your text messages? Your emails? All the items that police will review should be listed in the warrant.
What about accessing my cell phone records through my service provider?
One area that has come under debate over allowing privacy is whether law enforcement can access your cell phone data through your service provider. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement needs a warrant to access your location data through a service provider. By accessing location data, law enforcement can see if a suspect was in the area of a reported crime at the time the crime occurred.
If you have concerns about a warrant to search your cell phone, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney immediately. An attorney can review the warrant and see if police have probable cause to search your phone. You always want to do everything you can to protect yourself from facing serious criminal charges and protect your Fourth Amendment rights.