Regardless of the situation, when the police come to search your property, it can feel like an invasion of your privacy. Often, in addition to searching your physical property, officers are equally interested in your digital property.
Phones, computers and other devices can hold essential information for you, your business and your loved one. It is critical to know when police can search electronic devices and what the search will entail.
Here’s what you should know about the authorization law enforcement needs to search your devices.
Before you agree
Often, an officer will ask to see a device to see if you will cooperate. In some cases, people will hand over their devices to demonstrate that they have nothing to hide.
Keep in mind, when you give an officer permission to search your property (digital or otherwise), they no longer need a warrant because they have your consent. Now, rather than a narrow search for specific evidence, the officer can look for anything.
A warrant for that?
In most cases, officers will still need a warrant to search your phone, computer and other electronic property. In order to get a warrant, law enforcement needs to demonstrate that they have to convince a judge that a crime was committed. The warrant needs to detail where the officer wants to search, what they expect to find and where they expect to find it.
It is important to note that there are times when an officer does not need a warrant to conduct a search. In these cases, the officer will need to demonstrate that the investigation fell under one of the exceptions to the warrant rules.