Should officers be allowed to search your cell phone if you're arrested?
NAPLES, Fla. - Should officers be allowed to search your cell phone if you're arrested? Now officers can and they don't always need a search warrant.
Collier County deputies pulled over and arrested a Fort Lauderdale man last week for conspiracy to commit burglary. The man had his phone on him and a detective was able to search it and also charge him with identity fraud.
"If you're arrested and it's found on you we can search your phone," said Michael Williams, Legal Affairs Collier County Sheriff's Office.
Turns out, deputies may not even need a warrant meaning text messages and data is fair game.
"Do the deputies here...are they able to search the cell phones without a warrant?" I asked.
"If it meets the criteria, the search is incident to arrest, yes. It's up to the discretion of the deputy," said Williams.
The courts agree. A recent ruling says officers do not need a warrant and can search your phone as they do a wallet.
"It's no different for a phone. Sometimes you may find evidence of a crime on there. It could be a phone number or something, sometimes you won't," said Williams.
But the ACLU argues it's an invasion of privacy and warrants should always be needed to search cell phones.
"Certainly, we believe that the search of a cell phone which now a days is effectively is a computer, without probable cause to believe that there's evidence of a crime and getting a search warrant in order to search violates the 4th Amendment," said Randall Marshall, ACLU Legal Director.
I took that concern back to the Sheriff's Office.
"If it's an invasion of privacy, it might be, but is searching your wallet when I arrest you an invasion of privacy? Is searching your car if I arrest you an invasion of privacy? That's part of being arrested," said Williams.