Can police search your phone while you are in custody without your knowledge?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can police search your phone while you are in custody without your knowledge?

I was arrested for DWI, I was not drunk, but I was highly toxic and incoherent
by medications given by doctors and was basically in a comatose state for 8
days. After getting out and and regaining conscience, I noticed that a friend
had tried to ‘facebook call me’ and 7 hours later the call was returned but
unanswered, while I was in custody and they had my purse, where my phone was. I
did not have knowledge of this till now, 3 months later.

Asked on November 26, 2017 under Criminal Law, Texas


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The Supreme Court has been granting more and more protections to defendants regarding cell phone searches.  Unless they had probable cause or a warrant to search your phone, they cannot just go through your phone.  The only other potential exception would be if the officers were having issues identifying you because you were incoherent.  However, they cannot invoke this exception if your identification was otherwise available to them (like in your wallet or purse).

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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