Can a cop take a minor child’s phone and threaten them with going to jail to make the minor remove the password from it?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can a cop take a minor child’s phone and threaten them with going to jail to make the minor remove the password from it?

My son’s name came up in an investigation into pics of a minor female being passed around. An officer came to school and told my son he needed to take his phone. My son requested to call me to have me come take care of this. The

officer refused to let him call either his mom or I. My son was told if he did not give up the phone and remove the password he would forcibly remove the phone from his possession and he would be arrested for obstruction of justice, handcuffed and taken to jail. The school did not inform us of this and the police

only called us to say they had his phone and we would be required to sign a permission form so they could look through the phone. Is this legal? What about the 4th amendment? What rights do we have here?

Asked on March 16, 2016 under Criminal Law, Illinois


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

There are still search and seizure laws on the books which require real and effective consent.  You need to hire a criminal defense or civil rights attorney to call the agency, speak with this officer's captain, and then secure the return of the phone. Considering how odd this cop's behavior has been, do not sign anything until you have representation.  The document will most likely make it look as though your cooperation is voluntary, when in actuality, your family have been repeatedly threatened.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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