When Police Want Your Smartphone


Our cell phones contain a lot of personal information, from credit card numbers to our bank info, photographs, text messages, call logs, and more. Should all of this information fall into the hands of the wrong person, it may be used against an individual.

A part of the Miranda rights states a suspect has the right to remain silent. But what about smartphones? Can your phone “speak on your behalf”? Are law enforcement officers allowed to force you to turn over your phone and online records?
The simple answer to this is no, a police officer cannot simply seize your phone. Since your phone belongs to you, a warrant is required for an officer to seize it or look at it. The same thing applies for access to phone records from your wireless provider.

There are, however, scenarios where police can seize your phone or request your records without needing a warrant if there is probable cause. For example, if officers believe your phone may have information on a child abduction or if they are requesting your phone records due to a bomb threat, a warrant is not required. If you are placed under arrest, a police officer can take your phone.

You may be wondering what happens if the police do legally seize your phone. Are you required to give them your password or unlock the phone using your fingerprint? Thanks to the fifth amendment, you cannot be legally forced or required to unlock your phone as this may be self-incriminating. Even if an officer tries to imply that unlocking your phone will work in your favor, it’s wise to speak with your lawyer first.

This update is published by The Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh, a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer. Areas of practice include criminal defense, white collar crimes, drug crimes, fraud, DUI, sex crimes, domestic violence, and more. With over two decades of experience, Mark is committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for his valued clients under difficult circumstances. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call 954-500-0003 in Broward or 305-674-0003 in Miami.

This information is provided for educational or informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice.

Contact Information