Sometimes, you feel like you couldn’t live without your cell phone. You use it to text friends and call family members. You research where you want to eat or where the nearest gas station is. You can look for jobs with your phone, plan a weekend getaway and so much more. So, if police stop you, suspecting you might have drugs or are dealing drugs, officers likely will ask you to search your phone.
Can police do that? Search your cell phone without a warrant?
The legality of phone searches
In 2009, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that police can’t search someone’s phone without a warrant. In fact, even if police arrest you for drug possession or drug trafficking, they can’t search your phone without a warrant unless they think that search will protect their safety. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court also ruled that police searching someone’s cell phone without a warrant violates their Fourth Amendment rights – the rights to avoid unreasonable searches and seizures.
Other ways police can get information from your phone
However, law enforcement has other ways of getting information from your cell phone use. Police could get a warrant for Facebook, Apple, or Twitter to provide information your phone has in cloud storage. Law enforcement could seek cell phone records from your service provider to try to establish who you have been calling and where you were if you are implicated in a crime.
When police begin asking questions
If police contact you about an ongoing investigation or question you about drug trafficking or other serious crimes, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. You never should participate in a police interview about criminal charges without an attorney present. Nor should you consent to police searching your home without a warrant.
You need to protect your rights when it matters most – when police are investigating you or charge you in a criminal case.