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Conway Criminal Law Blog

Can Your Phone Be Used as Evidence?

The matter of whether your phone can be used as evidence against you in a criminal case is complex. You’re generally well advised, however, to assume that any information found in your phone can – for the most part – be used against you in a court of law. If you’re facing a criminal charge of any kind, bringing your strongest defense is paramount, and an experienced Marion criminal defense attorney can help you with that.

Our Phones

Our mobile phones have become an extension of our lives, and we tend to take them for granted. In the process, they are often goldmines for the prosecution when it comes to criminal cases. Even when the evidence afforded isn’t particularly robust, you can expect the state to spin the information in a light that best serves its position.

In other words, your smartphone likely contains a good deal of information, including location data, that could work against you in the criminal case at hand. Additionally, using forensic examination tools such as CellBrite, law enforcement can often retrieve mountains of data and information that is on or has been on your phone – INCLUDING DELETED TEXTS, CALL LOGS AND EMAILS. While Law Enforcement or the Prosecutor need a warrant or other court order to access the information, obtaining one may not prove to be much of an obstacle.

A Note about Social Media

It’s important to note that anything you post on social media that is viewable by the public can also be used as evidence against you in a criminal case, but the matter doesn’t end there. Your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter posts and posts to other social media sites can potentially be used against you. Even information, photos, and videos that you post privately can be captured by those with access and shared with the police as evidence against you. Ultimately, you have very little privacy – if any – when it comes to your social media activity, and you should proceed accordingly.  Most social media companies have “Law Enforcement Assistant Networks” – dedicated departments to assist the police and prosecutors in responding to search warrants, subpoenas and court orders and will quickly and efficiently turn the properly requested information over to law enforcement. 

Smartphone Data

The prosecution can also subpoena data from smartphone providers. In these instances, however, service providers generally require a high degree of specificity regarding the data sought, which means overly broad subpoenas may not have the desired results.

If you are stopped and charged with a crime or are charged at a crime scene and the police ask for consent to check out your phone, the matter is very different. Once you provide consent, any information they find becomes fair game in terms of using it as evidence against you. This is in keeping with your right to remain silent – when anything you say can be used against you.

The best plan is always to remain silent, which includes denying consent for a quick search of your phone, and to reach out for the professional counsel of an accomplished criminal defense attorney from the outset.  Do not provide your code to unlock the phone.  Please note that facial recognition only requires your face to unlock your phone!!

An Experienced Marion Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

The savvy criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Brad C. Richardson – proudly serving Marion, South Carolina – are well prepared to build your strongest defense in the face of a criminal charge, and we have an imposing record of success backing us up. The outcome of your case is important to your future, so please don’t put off contacting us online or calling us at 843-488-4321 for more information about what we can do to help you today.