Your Passcode and police cell phone search in Arizona
Police officers have the right to search your vehicle, your person, and much more when they have reasonable suspicion. But what counts as reasonable suspicion, and when does it allow officers to demand your phone? Phones have become a safe-haven for our most important and private information.
Understanding cell phone and privacy rights have become a challenge, especially when it often seems that police can search for anything as long as they claim to have reasonable suspicion.
Your Rights as a Citizen in Arizona
As an Arizona citizen, you have the right to refuse your passcode to any officer that requests it. Even with reasonable suspicion, Arizona state law is more protective than the constitution 4th amendment that protects your rights to privacy.
Under the 4th amendment, all citizens have the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures specific to their person, house, papers, and ‘effects.’ Within Arizona’s state constitution, that same right is explained as, “No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs…” which in recent cases has been applied to cell phone access.
You Don’t Have to Allow Police to Violate Your Privacy.
Even when you’re pulled over or approached by officers, you can say no. It is possible to stand up to protect your privacy and possibly avoid charges that could arise from any information an officer may find on your phone.
Now it is possible that the officers could come back with a warrant. Warrants are never a free pass to search through anything, every warrant comes with restrictions, and it’s important that you understand those restrictions. Always ask to see the warrant. But, even if the police violate the restrictions of the warrant and find incriminating evidence, they can still act on it, take the device, and issue charges against you.
Another important note is that you do not have to answer any questions from law enforcement during the search. The police will undoubtedly ask you questions about the material or information that they find. You don’t have to respond to anything. In fact, it may be better if you don’t because you could risk providing information that would lead to charges when otherwise the search would not result in anything.
Unreasonable Searches and Probably Cause
Often police overexert their authority and make it seem as though you’re not able to refuse their requests. They use tactics to make you feel as though refusing access will result in a worse situation than you’re already in. But often, they’ll use anything they find on your phone to press charges or detain you.
There are so many times that police violate not only the 4th amendment but also Arizona state law. The trouble is that many victims of this invasive search and seizure behavior don’t realize that they were not treated fairly or in line with the law. Talk with your attorney about how the conduct of officers who issued your charges can impact your upcoming defense case.