Can the Police Access my Texts without a Warrant in CA?

Stockton Criminal Law AttorneyThese days, cellphones are extremely valuable devices that contain untold information about its owner. Everything from call logs to browsing history, camera pictures, and even text messages can be easily accessed with just a few taps. With this versatility and convenience comes a few key questions, especially in regards to law enforcement.

For this post, we’re looking to answer the following question: can the police search your texts without a warrant? As always, don’t forget that the information contained in this post is general and nature and should not be considered legal advice. With that said, here’s what you need to know about warrantless searches and cellphones in CA.

Police Need a Warrant to Search your Cellphone in CA

For years, police have been able to search an accused’s phone immediately after arresting them. This was highlighted in a 2011 case where a man who was arrested for drug possession had his cell phone confiscated, and the texts within it were used to charge him with a felony offense. This set the precedent that police officers could and would search through the phone of anyone who was arrested.

However, a 2014 case changed this precedent. In Riley v. California, it was determined that your phone should have the same legal protections as your residence, meaning that officers need a warrant before they can explore its contents. Of course, there are exceptions to many laws, and in this case it was also determined that “exigent circumstances” could justify a search without a warrant or the owner’s consent. If an officer can prove that there is an urgent and clear reason for them to search your phone, they might be able to do so without your go-ahead.

Consult with a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney in CA

While the 2014 ruling helps clear the air and restores the rights of cell phone owners everywhere, there are instances where the circumstances are still murky at best. This is why it’s vital that anyone who is arrested or accused of a crime in CA take the time to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Do you want to learn more about this topic, or any other matter relating to criminal law in CA? Don’t hesitate to call our seasoned criminal defense attorneys at the Jacot Law Firm. Call us today at 209-463-1800 to schedule a free initial consultation.