Personal Attention.
Aggressive Defense.

Photo of Thomas C. Mooney

3 ways police can access your cellphone

On Behalf of | May 22, 2024 | Criminal Defense

If you are being arrested or detained by the police, they may want to access your smartphone. It is fairly common advice not to hand the police your phone if it is unlocked. Once you lock it, this restricts access and they can only get in with a passcode or with biometric data – like your fingerprint.

That being said, simply locking your phone doesn’t guarantee that the police can’t access it. Below are three ways that they may be able to do so lawfully.

Asking for your consent

First and foremost, police officers will probably ask for your consent. They may just want you to use your fingerprint to open the phone so that they can check some of the information on it. You do have the right to deny this consent, of course, and people do.

Getting a search warrant

If the police do not get your consent to open the phone, then they may be able to force your hand by getting a search warrant. If you are served with this warrant, you’ll have to comply with the court order. Remember that deleting information on the phone can be seen as destruction of evidence and obstruction of the investigation.

Getting information from other sources

Finally, it’s important to remember that the information on your phone is often backed up or stored elsewhere. Your pictures may be on a Google Drive or an iCloud account, for example. Messages that you sent may be stored in the cloud by social media companies. In some cases, the authorities can use search warrants to get your information directly from these tech companies, without involving you at all.

Digital evidence is a complex area of the law. It’s important for people to know exactly what steps to take when facing charges in order to protect their rights. Seeking personalized legal guidance is a good way to get started.