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Can the police read your text messages?

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2021 | Criminal Defense

The police arrest you and claim that you broke some serious laws. For instance, maybe they say that you were illegally selling firearms without serial numbers to those who wouldn’t be able to buy those guns otherwise. It’s a very serious accusation and you could do a lot of time if convicted. 

The police claim that you set up most of these deals on your phone, and they say that the evidence will be in your text messages. Are they allowed to read those messages to find out for sure? 

How old are the messages?

There are many factors here. First off, the police will probably ask for your consent to search your phone, as that is the easiest way for them to proceed. You are completely within your rights to deny them this consent, though. You don’t have to do what they ask and refusing them is not an admission of guilt. You may know there’s nothing incriminating on your phone and simply not want the officers to have access to your device. 

The next step is for the police to get a warrant. This is when the age of the messages matters. If those messages are 180 days old or older, they do not have to get a warrant. If the messages are newer (under 180 days), then they will need a warrant. So, they can’t read something you wrote last week without a warrant or your permission, but they can read something you wrote six months ago. 

What comes next?

When facing such serious accusations, it’s very important to know what legal steps you’ll need to take and exactly what rights you have. Protecting your interests and your future is essential in this situation.