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In order for the police to conduct a search, a warrant is typically required. There are exceptions to this legal rule, and as technological advances make it easier to store damaging information on personal devices, the law must keep up with the science. The area of electronics that springs to mind when thinking of technology is in cell phone capabilities. Apple recently unveiled its Apple Watch, which contains all the same information as your phone. The goal is to make access to your information easier, but with that ease comes the need to protect your privacy.

An important case in Florida in the area of search and seizures dealt with cell phones. In the case of Cedric Smallwood, the Court ruled that a cell phone can be seized during a lawful arrest, but cannot be searched without a warrant. Exceptions to this rule include:

  • Consent by the owner.
  • Extenuating or extraordinary circumstances.

The purpose behind allowing an officer to conduct a search during an arrest is for the safety of the officer. When weapons are found, they can be seized and it seems that a cell phone can as well. Any information obtained from that phone without a warrant though, is unlawfully obtained evidence. When evidence is not obtained by following the letter of the law, it cannot be used in a case against you. If you have been arrested and believe items seized were taken without proper legal basis, contact us for a review of the facts to determine if an argument can be made to suppress the evidence.

If you have questions about criminal cases, proper arrest procedures, or what can be searched during an arrest, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart and the Treasure Coast. Your first visit is a free initial consultation.


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