Can police search your cellphone without a warrant?

Most of us have a smartphone or cellphone that contains a lot of important personal information. If we did not have our phones on us, we would be lost. We rely on these devices for the contact information of friends and relatives, as well as to provide directions to places we need to go.

Access to this information has become a major issue in a current United States Supreme Court case, and the decision could have an impact upon individuals charged facing drug charges or other criminal offenses. The decision, which is expected sometime in the next month, could greatly expand the power that police have to search these devices.

The case concerns the access that law enforcement has to data on cellphones. The current case before the court involves defendants in two jurisdictions who had their phones searched by police without warrants. In both cases, officers had time to obtain a warrant, but decided not to do so.

The court wanted to know some of the reasons that law enforcement would need to examine phones without search warrants. Officials are concerned that the phones could be used to detonate bombs or otherwise cause harm or injury to those investigating the crimes.

Critics have said that there are other steps that police can take to ensure their safety. Special bags can prevent the phone from being able to send or transmit information, and this can prevent anything from being lost while waiting for the warrant. Also, if there are no restrictions in place, police may be able to access the information on the phone for completely unrelated crimes. For example, a motorist could be charged with driving without a license and have his or her phone searched. If evidence of other crimes is discovered, this could lead to additional charges.

If you have been charged with a drug crime or other criminal offense in Virginia, it is extremely important that you understand the significance of these accusations. A criminal conviction will greatly impact several different areas of your life. Depending upon the offense charged, you could even lose your job.

You should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can provide a comprehensive evaluation of your case and learn if there are any defenses available to you.

Do not hold any discussions with law enforcement without your attorney present. Often, this is the officer's way of gathering evidence to use against you to help obtain a conviction. Even if you are just being polite and responding to questions that have been asked, you may be giving the police valuable information. You have the right to remain silent, and you need to be sure to protect yourself at such an important time.