Can the Police Search Your Cell Phone Without Your Consent?
Interactions with the police can be stressful and confusing, especially when you are unaware of a police officer’s limitations under the law. For example, if you have been arrested and the police are searching for the contents of your cell phone, you may be wondering if they can freely do so without your consent.
As is often the case in legal questions, the answer is that it depends. The best way to protect your rights after an arrest or search or seizure of your property is to contact a St. Louis criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can.
The Basics of Search and Seizure
The U.S. Constitution Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures by police officers. Under the law, police officers are required to obtain a search warrant prior to conducting any search unless a legal exception applies.
Some of the exceptions to obtaining a warrant include:
- Your voluntary consent to a search. Note that you are not required to consent to a search of your person or your property.
- A search incident to a lawful arrest allows officers, after lawfully arresting a person, to search the area within your immediate control or reach.
For example, if an officer lawfully arrests a driver who is driving while intoxicated, then the arresting officer may find a cell phone in their pocket during a search incident to the lawful arrest. Under this exception, an officer may have legal grounds to seize your phone. That said, that does not mean that the officer has a right to search the contents of your phone. In most cases, the police need a warrant to go through the digital data stored in your phone. In some cases, however, there may be exceptions to this rule.
Benefits of Legal Counsel
If the police have searched the contents of your cell phone without a warrant is critical to have St. Louis legal defense attorney on your side. Your lawyer will gather the facts and evidence necessary to determine whether the officer met the search incident to a lawful arrest exception and whether your legal rights were violated.
Your experienced St. Louis attorney will be ahead of the curve when it comes to changes to the law, cases that work in your favor, determining whether any exceptions apply and whether the officer has lawfully obtained a search warrant.
Speak to a St. Louis Defense Attorney Today
If a police officer searches the contents of your cell phone without a warrant or absent the exceptions above, it is critical that you contact an experienced St. Louis defense attorney sooner than later! The dedicated attorneys at Bruntrager & Billings, P.C are prepared to protect your legal rights and help you navigate the complex criminal justice system. Our attorneys possess extensive experience in St. Louis criminal defense, including handling illegal search and seizure issues. We have the necessary knowledge and skills to guide and represent you. Get started today by contacting us at 314-646-0066.