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Can police access phones?

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently passed down a ruling where police officers with a search warrant can gain access to a person’s phone to attain incriminating evidence. However, critics disagree, claiming that it is an infringement of a person’s Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

The case involved an associate of a known drug dealer that law enforcement was trying to get incriminating evidence on. The friend and his legal team did not dispute the search warrant or use software to hack into the phone, but they believed that the state had no right to force the owner to provide incriminating evidence.

New precedent with far-reaching implications

Obviously, Colorado law is different than New Jersey’s, but there are other cases where judges and law enforcement require the owner to give them the passcode for accessing the device. Law enforcement with a warrant can also use the owner’s fingerprint or their face to trigger facial recognition software on the device. Some believe this could be the end of privacy in the digital age because it is forced incrimination.

A common request in Denver

According to the Denver Police Department, it searched about 500 phones in 2019, which is up from 344 in 2018. Nevertheless, New Jersey is the first state in the country to rule on the passcode issue. Experts now predict that the issue will go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Constitutional rights under fire

This New Jersey ruling is just the latest in a battle to weaken the Constitution’s protections. Because law enforcement and judges have sometimes enabled this violation of rights, it is essential for those facing criminal charges to hire criminal defense attorneys to protect a client’s privacy, right to remain silent and other Constitutional protections. Americans should never give up these rights without a fight.

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