What are my rights on a traffic stop?

Almost everyone will be pulled over for some reason at some point, if they drive a car. Are you aware of what your rights are when this happens to you? It is important that you know that you have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure if you get pulled over for a traffic stop. This includes your cell phone.

What This Means

To conduct a lawful search, the police must either have your consent, or a search warrant issued by a judge. You might wonder why you should assert your rights and protect your phone. Your smartphone is much more than just a way to talk to other people. As technology has developed, our phones store as much (if not more personal information) than anywhere else, including our homes. Because our phones are so important, police officers cannot search them unless they have a warrant or your permission. The Supreme Court ruled as much in 2014, and San Diego police are fully aware of this law. This case was actually a case that generated out of El Cajon, in San Diego County California. Criminal defense attorneys in San Diego who are experienced are very up to date on this ruling and the changes. Just recently Alex Ozols, owner of Ozols Law Firm spoke to the judge about this case who initially made the ruling.

How This Should Affect You

Any information that is obtained from searching your cell phone can and will be used against you. If the information is obtained illegally, however, then it can oftentimes be suppressed because of the Fourth Amendment violation. In some cases that results in charges being dismissed in their entirety. In any event, however, illegally obtained evidence should not be used against you as a matter of policy, constitutionality, and basic fairness.

What Should You do if You are Stopped by Law Enforcement?

This information is interesting, but useless if you read this and aren’t sure what to do in the event you are asked by the police if they can search your phone. Anytime you are pulled over by the police, you should remain calm, be polite, and provide your license and registration upon request. Then you should leave your hands on the steering wheel. No matter the tone of the police officers, do your best to remain polite and calm.

If an officer asks to search your cell phone, you are well within your rights to refuse. No matter how scary it may seem to consider refusing the request, know that if you say yes, any information the police obtain from your phone, including your emails, pictures, and texts, can be used against you in court. If you refuse, the police officer will have no choice but to either obtain a warrant or drop the issue. A warrant will not be issued unless the police officer has a substantial reason to request it.

Always be cautious

Remember, the police are often fishing and looking for criminal behavior in routine traffic stops. If you are pulled over and the officers ask to search your cell phone, you should feel free to refuse, as any evidence found in your phone can be used against you in a criminal court case. Unless the police have a substantial reason to have asked to search your phone in the first place, the matter will end with your refusal. If you would like to discuss this, or any other criminal defense matter with an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney, call or email Alex Ozols today.