When the police suspect that somebody has been involved in a crime, regardless of whether they have arrested the person or not, they may ask the individual to hand in their electronic devices such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones. In some instances, police officers will take the individual’s phone away without their permission to browse through it in search of evidence that can be used to incriminate them.
Understandably, you will be wondering whether the police have the right to look through your smartphone. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s crucial that you know your rights as you could be incriminating yourself and other parties for crimes that you may not have even participated in. Here are a few examples when law enforcement can check through your smartphone.
If You Have Given Consent
When you have found yourself in an incident with law enforcement, they may ask you to hand over your personal possessions such as your smartphone to search. If you have provided consent, the police can search your electronic devices. If you do give consent for the police to search your property, you have the right to refuse to hand over your smartphone. What’s more, you aren’t required to hand over your password or encryption key to law enforcement.
If They Have a Warrant
In the event a warrant has been called to search your property and possessions, they should have a list of items that the police are seizing, meaning your smartphone will need to be on the list, however, police do have the right to take away a computer or smartphone without a warrant if it’s switched on and displaying something that’s clearly illegal. You have the right to not answer any questions without legal representation present nor help the police during a warrant-permitted search. In this situation, the EFF (the Electronic Frontier Foundation) recommends that you speak to your attorney as soon as possible.
If You’re Arrested
Assuming law enforcement has a reason to arrest you, they are able to remove anything that’s on your body, including your smartphone, however, police are not allowed to search the contents of a smartphone without a warrant issued. All they’re able to do is remove the smartphone from its case or take out the battery.
If There’s a Risk Evidence Will Be Destroyed
If it looks as though an individual is about to destroy their property, which could be used as crucial evidence in an investigation, police officers must provide reasonable proof that any evidence in a trial is at risk of being destroyed.
Finding an Attorney
If you are under criminal investigation and have had your smartphone taken away, it’s important that you find an attorney in Colorado Springs who have years of experience behind them to help you win your case. If you feel law enforcement has not acted in the correct way when searching your smartphone, speaking to a legal representative is advised.
No matter the situation, it’s important that you have the right legal representation behind you. If you have had to hand over your smartphone for whatever reason, making sure that law enforcement has acted in good faith and followed the right protocol is important for your case.