Three Instances Where Las Vegas Police May Search Your Phone
Mobile phones are intricate devices, and every year they continue to evolve. These days, a single smartphone has access to vast amounts of information, all in one compact and portable device. It stands to reason that such gadgets can play a pivotal role in Las Vegas criminal investigations.
In many criminal cases, mobile phones often turn up as important pieces of evidence that can ultimately determine a defendant’s guilt or innocence. However, there are restrictions regarding this procedure; if these restrictions are ignored, the court can void any evidence obtained. Let’s look at three instances where Las Vegas police may search a person’s phone in relation to a case.
Once a defendant is arrested, the police have carte blanche to conduct a warrantless search of all the items they possess, as well as anything within their immediate vicinity, at the time of the arrest. However, the arresting officers cannot immediately search the defendant’s phone. They will have to secure a separate search warrant for it, as it falls outside the ‘searches incident to arrest’ rule. The same rule applies if the defendant is still at large and a warrant for their arrest is active. However, the authorities can request the defendant’s service provider to share GPS coordinates if so requested.
Supported by a Search Warrant
As stated earlier, arresting officers will need to secure a separate search warrant if they wish to investigate a defendant’s phone. As standard procedure, the request can only be made once the defendant is in custody. Otherwise, the court cannot grant the request.
Defense lawyers are keen to block these search requests as it can further jeopardize their client’s legal position. In many cases, defense attorneys may point out that searching through the phone is going beyond the legal scope of the case. In other instances, the defense can point out that the search does not have probable cause to proceed.
Asking for Access
Phones come standard with a security system that restricts unauthorized access. It can be a passcode, a unique pattern, or biometric recognition. Certain vendors even offer more sophisticated systems for power users or specific types of clients.
As such, Las Vegas police with a warrant may request for a passcode or other means of entry into the phone instead of cracking it themselves. The thing is, there is no clear law in Nevada that oversees such situations; it is not entirely clear whether such an act is self-incriminating or is in violation of the Fourth Amendment. As such, whether or not police can ask for access works on a case-by-case or even per-judge basis.
Information stored in a defendant’s smartphone can seriously affect a defendant’s case in Las Vegas. Ask your defense attorney about how to properly handle such situations.