In: Criminal Defense

Can Police Go Through Your Phone In Texas?

In 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States held that an individual’s cell phone cannot be searched by a police officer without a valid search warrant. The Supreme Court justified its reasoning due to the amount of private and personal information people generally store on mobile phones. The Court determined that individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their cell phones regarding all the information contained in the devices.

This means that, in most cases, police officers cannot search through a cell phone in Texas without a valid search warrant. If a police officer asks an individual if the officer can look through a cell phone, the individual does not have to give the officer consent.

If an officer does look through your phone without your consent or a valid search warrant, any evidence contained on the cell phone should not be admitted in court. You want to speak with an experienced Denton criminal defense lawyer if you face any type of criminal charges - and especially if the police conducted a warrantless search of your phone.

Police Officers Need A Warrant To Search Through A Cell Phone

The Fourth Amendment protects all U.S. citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that in order to conduct most searches - including those of a cell phone - officers must first obtain a search warrant from a judge. This requires them to provide probable cause that the phone contains evidence of a crime.

Police officers might be able to conduct a warrantless search of a cell phone if exigent circumstances exist at the time of the search. This is an exception to the rule that officers need a search warrant to search a phone. Some examples of exigent circumstances are as follows:

  • Someone is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death
  • A police officer is pursuing a fleeing suspect
  • A search conducted without a valid warrant is necessary to stop the destruction of evidence

If any of these exigent circumstances are present, then the police officers might search a cell phone without a valid warrant. The officers must still be able to demonstrate that they had probable cause to believe the phone had criminal evidence in order to conduct a warrantless search.

Cell Phone Searches After Arrests

Under the Supreme Court case, officers still need a warrant to search a phone following an arrest. Phones contain significant information, much of which is not relevant to the criminal charges at hand, and police do not have the authority to search all of your information to try to find any evidence against you.

Contact a Denton Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you were arrested and police officers seized and searched your phone, you might have complex legal issues involved in your defense. You want an experienced defense lawyer on your side from the Law Office of Brent D. Bowen, PLLC. Contact us today for more information.