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Can the police look through my phone?

It’s no secret that this is a digital age. That means it’s more than likely most of your life exists on your cell phone. For many people, looking through someone’s phone is considered a severe violation of privacy.

You know what your privacy rights are for search and seizure of your home or car but you might be worried about what your rights to privacy are in regard to your cell phone. This is a new aspect of law that came along with the rise of technology.

Here is a short guide that may help you in figuring out what exactly your rights are.

The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects people from “unreasonable search and seizure” from the government. This does in fact, extend to electronic devices, including but not limited to computers, tablets and cell phones. This means, like with other property, the police cannot search through your devices without probable cause or a warrant.


There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. If you give the police permission to look through your devices, they do not need a warrant. Additionally, if a spouse, roommate or partner gives the police permission to look through your devices, this is also legal grounds for searching without a warrant.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 the police cannot search the contents of your cell phone even if you are arrested. However, there is an exception to this if the police have reasonable cause to believe evidence on the phone may be destroyed immediately.

If the police do have a warrant, however, they are legally allowed to search your devices within the boundaries of the warrant.

However, technology is constantly evolving and changing, so the rules and regulations for searching electronic devices may be subject to change with the times. For now, it is reasonable to assume your electronics are relatively protected from unwarranted search and seizure.

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