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Photo of attorney William Marcus Wilkerson
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3 ways the police can get information off of your phone 

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

A lot of personal information is stored on cellphones these days. People walk around with hundreds or even thousands of videos and pictures in their pockets. They have text messages, email messages, direct messages, saved files and much more.

During a criminal investigation, it is natural that the police may want to search the person’s phone as they seek evidence. This is not always possible, but there are three ways they can do it.

Getting consent

To begin with, much like with a home search, the police may simply ask for consent. Someone can decide if they would like to unlock their phone and allow the police officers access, but it is fully legal for them to deny that consent.

Getting a warrant

If the police don’t get consent, then they will often get a warrant or another court order, such as a subpoena. Depending on the type of search that is being performed and the nature of the case, this court order may compel the owner to give the police access.

Seeking alternative sources

Finally, remember that much of the information on a person’s phone is actually stored in the cloud. It is not exclusively local on that device. In some cases, the police will get a warrant for a tech company – such as serving Facebook with a warrant to turn over direct messages.

The way that the police gather information can have a very big impact on the case. If the police gathered evidence illegally, it may need to be excluded from court. Those facing criminal charges must understand all of their legal options.