No, law enforcement cannot search your cell phone without a warrant or probable cause. That being said, there are a number of legal exceptions that will allow law enforcement to search your cell phone without a warrant. Given the fact that your cell phone most likely contains all of your personal information, private photos, and other details of your life, you need to know how to exercise your rights when law enforcement attempts to look through your cell phone.
Everyone has a Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. That means that law enforcement cannot search you or your personal belongings without a warrant (there are some people such as inmates, school children or people crossing the border who do not have the full protection of the Fourth Amendment and can be searched without a warrant). That also means that the Fourth Amendment applies to your cell phone, even if you are pulled over, arrested or otherwise being investigated by law enforcement. No matter what the situation is, law enforcement has to have probable cause or a warrant to search your cell phone.
In most situations, law enforcement will not have probable cause to go through your phone so they will ask you for your consent to search your phone. If you ever find yourself in a situation where law enforcement is asking to search your phone then you should ALWAYS say no. Beyond the fact that you have a right to not have a police officer look through your phone, your phone may contain passwords, bank account info or private photos that you do not want to share with law enforcement. It’s important for you to remember that refusing a search cannot be held against you at all, so don’t let the officer talk you into consenting to the search. Regardless of the circumstances, you should never give an officer consent to search your cell phone.
In some situations, law enforcement will have probable cause to seize your cell phone, which they will do on scene, and then they will apply for a search warrant to search your cell phone at a later time. Oftentimes, this happens during a traffic stop. For example, if an officer pulls someone over and finds drugs, baggies and a scale in the vehicle, then law enforcement will have probable cause to believe the person is selling drugs. In this situation, the officer can seize the person’s cell phone based on the probable cause that the driver is selling drugs, and then the officer can apply for a search warrant to search the phone for evidence of drug sales. In most cases, the officer will look through photos and text messages on the phone to determine if there is evidence of drug sales on the phone. In this situation, the driver will not be able stop the officer from seizing their phone because the officer developed probable cause based on what was found in the car.
Law enforcement can also seize or search a phone without a warrant if there are exigent circumstances present. Exigent circumstances include emergency situations requiring swift action to prevent imminent danger to life or serious danger to property, or to stop the imminent escape of a suspect, or to stop the destruction of evidence. For instance, if law enforcement is arresting someone they believe has kidnapped a minor child and they believe the person’s cell phone contains information about the location missing child then law enforcement may be able to go into the phone without a warrant. In this situation, if the child’s life is in immediate danger and waiting on a warrant could put the child’s life in further peril, the police would be able to get into the phone without a warrant or consent due to the exigent circumstance; however, these situations are rare.
There are very few other exceptions to the warrant requirement for cell phones, but every situation is different. Either way, if the police seize, search or otherwise go through your phone without a warrant then you should contact a lawyer before moving forward with your case. Law enforcement will oftentimes hold and/or search cell phones without the legal authority to do so, so it’s important for you to speak to an attorney who has experience dealing with law enforcement and cell phone seizures. More importantly, if the police pull evidence off of your cell phone illegally then whatever evidence they found should not be admissible in court, so contacting a lawyer is always in your best interest.
If law enforcement searched your phone then your constitutional rights may have been violated. Regardless of the situation, you need an experienced attorney to file pleadings with the appropriate court attacking the legality of the search or seeking the suppression of any evidence found as a result of the illegal search. There are many more benefits to hiring an attorney if you feel your rights have been violated, and it’s important for you to choose the right attorney. Matthew Williams and the Law Office of Matthew Williams focus primarily on criminal defense matters in North Florida, and he’s been handling juvenile delinquency cases his entire career. Attorney Williams treats his clients like family because he knows what they are dealing with is always more than just a case, and he refuses to let law enforcement, state attorneys, or the criminal justice system stand in the way of getting his juvenile clients the justice they deserve. He obtains the best results for his clients and he’ll do the same for your child. Give the Law Office of Matthew Williams a call now.
Yes, the police can speak to, question and even detain a minor without contacting their parent or guardian in Florida. Under Florida law, a police officer can approach and speak to minors while they are in school, out in public or at home alone, and the police can proceed with questioning the child about a crime they were involved in, an incident they witnessed or a crime that they were the victim of without obtaining permission or consent from the minor’s parent.
One major difference between an adult and a minor being questioned by the police is the ability of the minor’s parents to prevent the interview. Generally, if the police are questioning an adult then no other adult can prevent the questioning. For example, if Joe, a 19-year-old college student, is with his mother when he is approached by the police for questioning about a grand theft auto, then his mother cannot prevent the police from questioning Joe because Joe is an adult. However, if Michael, a 14-year-old high school student, is with his mom and the police approach him to question him about a bag of marijuana that was found in his car, then his mom can stop the police from questioning Michael because Michael is a minor. The police would also be required to stop their questioning if a lawyer hired by Michael’s mother refused an interview on Michael’s behalf. Minors in Florida are awarded that extra protection, but law enforcement will oftentimes approach the minor for questioning when no parents are around to prevent a parent or lawyer from stopping the interview.
For that reason, it’s important that your child knows that they can always refuse to be questioned. Whether your child is questioned by a neighborhood patrol officer, the school resource officer or a seasoned detective, they always have the right to refuse to answer questions. They can also ask to contact you or an attorney before answering any questions. Even if your child is not the subject of a criminal investigation, your child should contact you because you need to be aware of what law enforcement is questioning your child about. You also need to determine whether you want your minor child to be a part of the criminal investigation. Unfortunately, a minor’s involvement in a criminal case can have negative, traumatic effects on a minor, even if they are just a witness, so being aware of what the police are talking to your child about is extremely important. Depending on the situation, speaking to the police may not be worth it, even if there are no legal implications.
If the police come to your house to question your minor child then you should always contact a lawyer before allowing the police to begin their interrogation. Law enforcement is allowed to lie to you and mislead you and your child, so even if you think you have an idea of why the police are asking your child questions you may be wrong. In fact, law enforcement officers rarely provide all details of their investigations when questioning suspects and witnesses as an investigative tactic, so contacting a lawyer is always in your best interest.
If an officer questions your minor child and your child tells you they did not want to speak to the officer, then your child’s constitutional rights may have been violated. Regardless of the situation, you need an experienced attorney to file pleadings with the appropriate court attacking the admissibility of your child’s statement or seeking the suppression of any evidence found as a result of their statement. There are many more benefits to hiring an attorney if you feel your child’s rights have been violated, and it’s important for you to choose the right attorney. Matthew Williams and the Law Office of Matthew Williams focus primarily on criminal defense matters in North Florida, and he’s been handling juvenile delinquency cases his entire career. Attorney Williams treats his clients like family because he knows what they are dealing with is always more than just a case, and he refuses to let law enforcement, state attorneys, or the criminal justice system stand in the way of getting his juvenile clients the justice they deserve. He obtains the best results for his clients and he’ll do the same for your child. Give the Law Office of Matthew Williams a call now.
Yes, you should always contact a lawyer if the police try to question you about your involvement in a crime. You should also speak to a lawyer before speaking with the police even in situations where you are “just a witness” or you were “just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Here’s why:
Police officers are allowed to lie to you, mislead you and trick you into making statements. They are under no obligation to tell you the truth about who they are investigating, what evidence they have, or whether they are going to arrest you after you provide a statement, so you can never trust a police officer who is questioning you. In fact, you may not even realize you are the subject of a criminal investigation until you’ve already incriminated yourself, so ask for a lawyer before you speak to any law enforcement officer.
Generally, if law enforcement officers want to speak to you then you are either the subject of a criminal investigation or they believe you have information related to a criminal investigation. Naturally, people want to tell their “side of the story” because they want to prove they are innocent or they want to provide helpful information, but if you are the suspect in a criminal investigation and you provide a statement then your own words may be used to incriminate you. Your words can also be used to place you at the scene of the crime, or to eliminate any defenses you may have. The same can happen even if you believe you were “just a witness,” so it’s always best to speak to a lawyer before giving your statement.
Keep this in mind also: If the police have probable cause to arrest you then they are going to arrest you whether you make a statement or not. Nobody can talk their way out of probable cause so making a statement can only make your situation worse. Also, even if you are innocent, if you give a statement and misstate one fact, that misstatement can be considered a lie that may come back to hurt you later (for example, let’s say John Doe is completely innocent but he is being questioned about a murder that happened at a nearby park. John Doe says “I had nothing to do with that murder. I don’t know the victim and I’ve never been to that park,” but then the police later find out that John was really at the park, then John just made himself look like a suspect, even though he didn’t commit any murder.).
A lot of people are afraid to ask for a lawyer when confronted by the police, or they think asking for a lawyer will make them look bad. It’s natural for us as human beings to explain our actions or innocence, but you need to request a lawyer before you speak. Always remain respectful when asking for a lawyer, and if the police officer still moves forward with questioning then you should ask for a lawyer a second time. Do not think about whether or not asking for a lawyer makes you look bad and do not think about whether the officer is going to be upset with you. You have a constitutional right to speak with a lawyer and no judge, court or jury can legally hold it against you.
#d29e0eThere are very few situations where it is in your best interest to talk. Even if it is in your best interest, you have no way of knowing whether it is in your best interest without speaking to a lawyer. If law enforcement has contacted you to provide a statement then you should contact The Law Office of Matthew C. Williams immediately. At The Law Office of Matthew C. Williams, we can discuss your situation, your potential statement and the legal implications as it relates to any statement you make. In most cases, Attorney Williams is able to make contact with the investigator or detective prior to meeting with you, and he’s able to advise you on whether you should provide a statement. If it is appropriate to provide a statement, Attorney Williams will accompany you while you make the statement as well.
There are many other benefits to retaining a lawyer if you are contacted by law enforcement. Attorney Williams and The Law Office of Matthew C. Williams focus primarily on criminal defense matters and they take pride in obtaining great results for their clients. Attorney Williams treats his clients like family because he knows what they are dealing with is always more than just a case, and he refuses to let law enforcement, prosecutors, or the criminal justice system stand in the way of getting his clients the outcome they deserve. He obtains justice for his clients and he’ll do the same for you, so give The Law Office of Matthew C. Williams a call to find out how he can seek justice for you today.
The police do not have to read a Miranda warning every time someone is arrested. The police are only required to read a Miranda warning if they have someone “in custody” and they intend to ask that person questions about a crime.
For example, if John Doe has an arrest warrant for Battery and he gets pulled over for speeding, then the police officer will probably give John Doe a ticket for speeding and arrest John Doe for the outstanding Battery warrant. If the police officer arrests John Doe for the Battery warrant but does not ask John Doe any questions about the Battery case, then the officer never has to read John Doe the Miranda warning. In that situation, John Doe is clearly considered “in custody” after he is arrested, but the officer did not have to read the Miranda warning because he didn’t ask John Doe any questions.
On the other hand, if Jane Doe has an arrest warrant for Robbery and she gets pulled over for speeding, then the police officer will probably give Jane Doe a ticket for speeding and arrest Jane Doe for the outstanding Robbery warrant. If a Robbery investigator shows up at the scene to question Jane after she is arrested, then the Robbery investigator would have to read the Miranda warning. In both situations, John Doe and Jane Doe are in custody, but only the Robbery investigator would be required to read Miranda because he is actually asking Jane Doe questions about the crime after she is already in custody.
Along those same lines, if an individual is not “in custody” then the police offer does not have to read the Miranda warning. “Custody”, for purposes of Miranda, doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has to be in handcuffs or in a cell. Courts will find an individual is “in custody” for Miranda purposes when “a reasonable person under the same circumstances would not feel free to leave.” For example, if John Doe is walking down the sidewalk and a police officer who is walking near him starts to talk to him about the weather, then courts will not find that John Doe is in custody for Miranda purposes. Under those circumstances, even if John Doe was scared and felt like he had to talk to the officer, the court will find that a reasonable person under the same circumstances would feel free to walk away. In that situation, the officer would not have to read Miranda warning to John Doe because John Doe is not “in custody,” even if the officer decided to ask John Doe a question about a crime.
On the other hand, if Jane Doe is walking down the sidewalk and four police officers surround her, block her path and hold a flashlight in her face, then the court will probably find that she is “in custody” for Miranda purposes. In Jane Doe’s situation, the court will be more likely to find that she is in custody even though she is not in handcuffs because a reasonable person under the same circumstances would not feel free to walk away. While the factual difference between John Doe and Jane Doe’s situation was not great, the fact that there were multiple officers that blocked Jane’s path would likely be the distinguishing factor. In Jane’s situation, the officers would have to read the Miranda warning before asking her any questions since she would be considered “in custody” for Miranda purposes.
Once an individual who is in custody is read their Miranda warning, they can either elect to speak with law enforcement or ask for an attorney. If they request an attorney then law enforcement has to stop all questioning until an attorney is present. In most cases, law enforcement never provides an attorney and the interview never goes any further. If law enforcement continues to ask questions then that person should contact an attorney as soon as they are able to.
If someone is arrested, detained or otherwise held in custody and questioned by law enforcement without receiving their Miranda warning then they should contact The Law Office of Matthew C. Williams immediately. Law enforcement cannot legally question an individual who is in custody without reading Miranda, and if they do, then Attorney Williams can take steps to have the statements dismissed. While an officer can claim they read you Miranda, they will have a difficult time proving that they read Miranda if your attorney has their body camera footage, dash camera footage or the recording of the interview. Regardless of whether there is a recording or not, it’s important to have an attorney who will fight to prove the violation of your constitutional rights.
At The Law Office of Matthew C. Williams, we can discuss your case with you and explain your rights as it relates to Miranda warnings, any statement you made and any potential motions we can file on your behalf. Depending on the facts of your case, we may be able to file a motion to suppress an unlawfully obtained statement. In certain instances, we can also have your statement completely thrown out.
Attorney Williams and The Law Office of Matthew C. Williams focus primarily on criminal defense matters and they take pride in obtaining great results for their clients. Attorney Williams treats his clients like family because he knows what they are dealing with is always more than just a case, and he refuses to let law enforcement, prosecutors, or the criminal justice system stand in the way of getting his clients the outcome they deserve. He obtains justice for his clients and he’ll do the same for you, so give The Law Office of Matthew C. Williams a call to find out how he can seek justice for you today.