Protected by Privacy, Unlocked by Warrant
Video Transcribed: Can law enforcement, can the police take your phone without a warrant in the state of Oklahoma? I’m Oklahoma Attorney James Wirth and that’s the question that we had submitted, can the police take your phone without a warrant?
All right, so if there’s an investigation going on, it is not uncommon for law enforcement to seize phones because they’re usually a wealth of information so it’s part of their investigation. If you get pulled over, you get arrested for something, they’re likely to take your phone, look for evidence on that. If they think that there are drug issues going on, then they’re going to seize that phone and try to get evidence from it. So the question is, can they take your phone without a warrant?
The general rule is to search you need a warrant unless there’s an exception to the warrant requirement. So if you are pulled over and stopped in a vehicle, there’s the automobile exception to the warrant requirement that does not require a warrant there because automobiles are mobile, so the concern is by the time they go get a warrant, the vehicle’s going to be long gone by then. So that is a well-established exception, the automobile exception. Does that apply to a phone that is found in the vehicle? No. Usually what happens is, can law enforcement seize your phone?
Yes, they can seize your phone, and hold your phone as evidence, but they cannot search your phone without a warrant unless you allow them to. So they’re probably going to ask you permission, “Hey, can you put in your code so we can look at this?” A lot of times people give permission. If you do not give permission, tell them they do not have permission to open or search your phone or unlock your phone, then they cannot do that without first going to court and getting a warrant. So they can seize it to protect the evidence, but they cannot access it without your permission or a warrant.
Hopefully, that answers your question. If not, though, post more questions. Contact us, and ask us questions over the phone. If you are dealing with the circumstance though, a question may not be enough, you’re going to want to consultation. You’re going to want legal advice based on a private meeting where we can learn all of your specific information confidentially and provide legal advice. If you want to get that going, you can go online to make an appointment with a Tulsa criminal defense lawyer. Go to makelaweasy.com.