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Can the Police Search My Phone When I Get Arrested?

Posted in Blog on February 7th, 2014

POLICE NEED A WARRANT TO LOOK SEARCH YOUR CELL PHONE

The Florida Supreme Court in Smallwood v State 113 So.3d 724 (Fla. 2013) has recently held that upon arrest law enforcement is required to obtain a search warrant to view the contents of a person’s phone.  The court found that today’s cell phones differed from earlier phones in the quantity and quality of the information stored. They are more like computers than simple home phones.

The Supreme Court stated that

(a) The police had a right to take possession of the defendant’s cell phone after arresting him.

(b) However, once the police did that, there was no chance that Smallwood could have used that phone as a weapon, nor could he have destroyed the contents of that phone.

(c) No “exigent circumstances” existed that justified the police searching Smallwood’s phone before getting a warrant.

(d) Therefore, the police were required to get a search warrant before searching the contents of Smallwood’s phone.

Remember, it is your constitutional right to refuse to consent to any search.  If you consent to a search then it severely limits the ability to challenge the search at a later time.  Exercise your rights and make the police get a warrant.

For more information on this specific 4th amendment issue or any criminal defense issue please call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney David J. Sobel at 954-383-3000.