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Can The Police Go Through Your Phone?

In the heat of the moment of an encounter with the police, it can be confusing on what your rights are. One very unclear subject is if the police are allowed to go through your phone or phone records. To help identify if your phone is allowed to be searched, read this article. If you are still unsure, call a lawyer to get a free consultation.

Can the police go through your phone?

They must obtain a warrant before going through your phone in most cases. If they do not, the search is illegal.

Exceptions

Instances where the police are legally allowed to look through your phone without a warrant include:

  • Consent

  • If the phone screen was on and in plain view

What should you do if the police want to go through your phone?

Do not consent to a search

If they do not have a warrant and they are searching through your phone be sure to say, “I do not consent to this search.”

Do not give out your security code

You should also refuse to give them the code, even if they have a warrant.  If you do not have a code on your phone, put one on there now and make it hard to guess.  Some phones are impossible for them to get into unless they have the code, these are generally iPhone products.

Do not use a thumbprint for your security

Also, do not use a thumb or fingerprint for security as the court can make you place your thumb on the phone and open it, but they cannot make you give them the code even if there is a warrant.  The same goes for your computer, so make sure your computer is also password protected.  

Do not get physical or resist arrest in any way.

Can the police take your phone upon arrest?

Yes. They can confiscate your phone but they cannot search through it without a warrant. It does not matter if it is locked or not. But you should always have it locked.  

If the police took my phone for evidence, when will I be able to get it back?

It depends on the situation. Every case will be different, so consult with your lawyer to make sure you are getting your phone back in due time.  

Is there a way for the police to see the information I have deleted on my phone?

Yes. A “physical” analysis can retrieve deleted information. Even from apps such as Snapchat that are designed to disappear immediately. The process takes a long time and is being used in more and more cases.  However, if they do not have the password, they may not be able to get anything off the phone.   

Can the police get information from my phone provider?

Investigators need a court order, subpoena or a warrant to get information from your provider.

If you have any other questions about wrongful search or feel that you have been wrongfully searched, call a lawyer to get a free consultation. They will be able to look at your case individually and give you the best advice for next steps.