Police Must Have Warrant To View Cell Phone Photos

The Florida Supreme Court decided another important case about the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The defendant was arrested following a convenience store robbery. The police officer, who arrested the defendant, seized the defendant’s cell phone and proceeded to look through the phone, when he found five allegedly incriminating photos. The store owner reported about $15,000 stolen, along with a .38 caliber black and silver handgun. The five photos from the defendant’s phone included images of a black and silver handgun with fanned-out stacks of money and similar portrayals. Over the defense attorney’s objection, the prosecutor was allowed to use the five photographs during trial, which resulted in a conviction. The Supreme Court ruled that the police required a warrant to view the photos on the defendant’s cell phone. Therefore, the court reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial. Notably, the high court emphasized that “there is no reasonable possibility that the improperly admitted photos did not contribute to [defendant’s] conviction.”

In this high tech world, with almost everyone owning a cell phone, the laws have to catch up to today’s realities. In this case, our Supreme Court ensured that the constitutional right to be free against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to defendants, whose cellphones are seized and viewed by the police, a routine practice among law enforcement. At Herman Law, P.A., we not only have extensive experience in defending people in unfortunate circumstances, but also continuously stay on top of the most recent developments in the law and strategically apply that knowledge to aggressively defend our clients. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.