According to the recent decision in State v. Glasco, 37 Fla. L. Weekly D1414 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012), when a suspect is lawfully arrested some place other than a vehicle, police are allowed to seize and search a cellphone found on the suspect during the arrest. In those circumstances, the officers do not need a search warrant, consent, or any other justification for the search as it is a type of “search incident to a lawful arrest.”
So what does this mean for you? If for any reason you are arrested outside of your vehicle, and your cell phone is in your possession, the police may seize it and access any stored material including pictures, texts, emails, etc.. Since many phones are essentially hand-held computers, they have the storage capacity to save years of intimate life details. In essence, today’s phones have become the modern diary along with social networking sites such as facebook. So in sum, do not store any information on your phone that you would not want the police to access, it may lead to additional charges or the discovery of additional evidence that could be used against you.
As an aside, the Florida Supreme Court is currently reviewing the issue of warrantless cellphone searches incident to a lawful arrest. Until the Florida Supreme Court reaches a ruling, the law in Glasco is valid and binding across the state. However, the law on this topic is in flux, and could be changed at any time.
For further information on this topic or other legal matters do not hesitate to contact the Tampa Attorneys at Anton Castro Law.