Your Cell Phone is Your Private Property
Clients often ask us, “Do I have to let the police search my phone?” In the present day, cell phones have taken on a significant role in our lives. To most people, their cell phone is an extension of themselves. Cell phones hold our most personal information – from text messages with friends and family, to social media accounts, to photographs, to work and personal emails, to our GPS locations, and the list goes on…
With so much personal, revealing information in a single device any of us would not only feel uneasy with someone else having access to the information on our cell phone without our permission but also would feel deeply violated if that were to occur.
Police Need a Warrant to Search Your Phone
However, as a criminal defense attorney in Tennessee, I’ve had cases where by the time I have met my clients they already let police officers and detectives search their phone simply because the police asked for permission to do so. And the first question I always ask these clients is, “Why did allow the police to do that?” My question is often met with a shrug of the shoulders, darting eyes, and some form of “I don’t know, I thought I had to.”
Remember: if the police could do it without your permission, then they would not be asking for your permission to do it.
• You do not have to let police search your phone.
• You do not owe the police any type of an explanation for refusing to let them.
• Police are not allowed to search your phone unless they have a warrant or unless you give them permission. Otherwise, your phone is off limits to the police.
• Do not give police permission to search your phone.
Use a Passcode to Keep Your Phone Contents Private from Police
Even further, the passcode to your phone is privileged information that is protected under the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and you are under no obligation to provide it in order for them to search the phone.
• Always keep a passcode on your device and remember that, even if you are arrested, the police have no right to search the contents of your phone without a warrant.
• Do not give the police the passcode to your phone.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, or are under criminal investigation, and want a strong criminal defense attorney in Franklin, Williamson County, Nashville, or Middle Tennessee then contact us today to discuss your case and learn more about our strong legal representation!