When an authoritative figure asks to see your cell phone, your knee-jerk reaction may be to just hand it over. However, no matter who asks to look through your things, there are certain procedures that should be followed to protect your rights. While many people understand that police officers have to have a search warrant to search through a car or home, some people are uncertain if cell phones fall into the same category. However, in the state of Florida, your cell phone is considered personal property and is handled as such throughout an investigation. Please note, however; if you willingly agree to allow law enforcement to go through your belongings, then they do not require a search warrant.
The Florida Supreme Court Decision
At one point, officers could rummage through a cell phone without a search warrant. They could simply look through your phone at whatever information they wanted. However, as cell phones have become more and more of a type of storage locker for personal information, the courts started to view them differently. Think about the type of information that can be found on your cell phone at any given time. Such things include:
- Contact information for friends and relatives;
- Personal bank information gained from apps;
- Personal social media access;
- Exchanges of information between you and your friends/family;
- Daily planners;
- Medical information; and
Basically, a cell phone is on the same level as searching someone’s home based on the sheer amount of information that it stores. In 2013, the Florida Supreme Court finally recognized that the current archaic approach to search and seizure laws did not adequately take into account the advances in technology. The result was that the court rules that officers must obtain a search warrant in order to search through a person’s phone just as they would with any other form of property.
Advantages of a Search Warrant
There are a number of advantages for police officers to have to have a search warrant to look through an individual’s phone. For one, it means that proper procedure is followed to protect privacy. It also means that the proper channels are being used to ensure a quality investigation. This is beneficial for both the prosecutor and the defense in the long run.
Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach
Are you seeking the advice of a defense attorney? Reach out to Scott Skier for your defense strategy. He will make sure that your case is being handled with the highest care and that you have the strongest defense strategy available. Attorney Skier has been serving the West Palm Beach area for years and he understand the proper laws for search and seizure. He will work for you to make sure that your privacy is protected at all points of an investigation. You can reach out to him today for a free consultation.