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Illegal Search of Your Cell Phone

Santa Barbara Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are arrested, you have the right to decline to allow police to look at the contents of your cell phone. Police must have a warrant to look at what is on your phone without your permission, or there must be an emergency situation present that threatens the well-being of another person.

If you are arrested and police ask to search your cell phone, we suggest you state politely but clearly, “Officer, you do not have my permission to look at the contents of my cell phone.” Do not sign any document giving police permission to search your phone. As in all arrests, you should decline to answer questions and ask to speak to an attorney.

As soon as possible after an arrest in the Santa Barbara area, you should contact the legal team at Andrade Law Offices. We will respond immediately to get you released from custody and to protect your rights. If the prosecutor’s case against you is based on evidence obtained through an illegal search of your cell phone, your Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer can work to have that evidence suppressed and the charges against you reduced or dismissed.

For more information and insight, contact us today at (805) 422-7767 for a free consultation.

Supreme Court Ruling Requires Warrants for Cell Phone Searches

At the time of an arrest, police may search your person, which means that they can frisk you and go through your pockets. They may search anything on your person, such as a container in your pocket or a book bag, and anything in your immediate control, such as the seats and floorboards of your vehicle.

In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case that came from California that police cannot search the contents of a suspect’s cell phone without a warrant. The ruling is based on the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The court said its ruling only applies to data on the cell phone. The physical aspects of the phone may be searched without a warrant according to previously acknowledged search rule exceptions for emergency situations and for the safety of the officer. Therefore, an officer can remove the phone from its case or remove the battery to ensure, for example, that a razor blade is not hidden somewhere on the phone. The officer may also search the contents of your phone if that information may be used to assist someone who has been seriously injured or is threatened with imminent injury.

The court rejected a claim that police should be allowed to search a phone if they believe evidence could be lost, such as via a remote wiping program that erases the phone’s contents. This can be avoided in multiple ways, according to the court, including by taking the battery out of the phone and thus disconnecting it from external programs.

Therefore, proper procedure for police in an arrest is to ask for permission to search your phone, which you should deny. Then they may seize your phone and hold onto it until they obtain a warrant, and then conduct the search.

It should be understood that restrictions applied by the June 2014 Supreme Court ruling do not apply at an international border or an international airport. There, law enforcement officials may seize and fully examine a cell phone or other electronic devices if they have reasonable suspicion you’ve engaged in criminal behavior.

Your Phone Was Searched…Now What?

If police searched your cell phone without a warrant after June 25, 2014, the date of the Supreme Court ruling, any evidence derived from information on your phone should be disallowed in court. Prior to the ruling, such searches were allowed under California law.

You will need a skilled Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer, however, to convince the court that police only have evidence against you because they conducted an illegal search of your cell phone.

The team at Andrade Law Offices has the knowledge and skill to make a forceful argument for the court to suppress faulty evidence against you in a criminal case. Founding attorney Steven Andrade is a former Deputy District Attorney for Ventura County and a former Assistant Attorney General. Attorney Matt Conley is a former Deputy District Attorney for Shawnee County. When you work with a criminal defense attorney at our firm, we will ensure that your Constitutional rights are protected. If charges against you are based solely or primarily on evidence that has been illegally obtained, we may be able to have your case dismissed. You may not even need to appear in court.

Each case has its own unique set of facts that dictate the best defense strategy. The legal team at Andrade Law Offices will provide a full, knowledgeable review of your case and explain your legal options. If you hire us to represent you, we will provide an aggressive defense of your rights. Our goal is to obtain the most favorable outcome possible.

Call a Santa Barbara Defense Attorney Today

Never face criminal charges of any kind without a qualified defense attorney to speak on your behalf and protect your rights. Our attorneys have the skill and dedication necessary to aggressively fight criminal charges filed against you. We have had numerous criminal charges reduced or dismissed for our clients.

If you were arrested and your phone was searched, we recommend that you contact Andrade Law Offices as soon as you can for immediate assistance. We offer a free legal consultation to prospective clients facing criminal charges, and we offer an affordable payment plan to our clients in criminal defense cases.

Call (805) 422-7767 for legal help today.

Contact Andrade Law Offices Today!

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