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  • Writer's pictureBrad Thornton

San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney: How the Police Can Use Your Cell Phone Against You


Welcome to the world of digital forensics, where technology plays a significant role in criminal investigations. If you ever find yourself charged with a crime, it's crucial to understand how your cell phone can be used against you in court. In this blog post, we will explore how police can use your cell phone as evidence, including how they can obtain it, access its data, and what they are searching for. We'll also discuss your right to privacy in your cell phone and how the information gathered from it may be used in court. With this information, you can be better informed about the potential implications of your phone being used as evidence in your criminal case.


How Can the Police Obtain Your Cell Phone?


There are several ways that police can obtain your cell phone as part of a criminal investigation. The first way is by asking for your consent to search it. If you give your consent, the police can legally search your phone without the need for a warrant. However, it's important to remember that you have the right to refuse consent.


If you are arrested, the police can seize your cell phone as part of a search incident to arrest. This means that they can search your belongings, including your phone, if they have reason to believe that it contains evidence related to the crime.


In some cases, the police may also obtain a search warrant to search your house, place of business, car, or any other place where they believe your cell phone may be located. A search warrant is a court order that gives the police the legal authority to search a specific location for evidence related to a crime. The police must present probable cause to the court to obtain a search warrant, which means that they must provide a compelling reason for why they believe your phone contains evidence related to the crime.


It's important to remember that, in all cases, the police must follow the proper legal procedures to obtain your cell phone. If they violate your constitutional rights, any evidence obtained from your phone may be deemed inadmissible in court.


How Can the Police Legally Access Your Data?


The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling in State v. Granville is an important case that dealt with the issue of privacy and cell phone data. In this case, the court held that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in their cell phone, even if it is in the possession of the police. This means that the police must obtain a warrant to access the data on your phone.


The ruling in State v. Granville was significant because it recognized the importance of privacy in the digital age, where cell phones and other electronic devices contain a vast amount of personal information. The court noted that given the modern technology and the incredible amount of personal information stored and accessible on a cell phone, a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in their cell phone.


The decision in State v. Granville has important implications for criminal investigations in Texas, as it sets a precedent for how the police must handle cell phone data in criminal cases. The ruling makes it clear that the police must follow the proper legal procedures to obtain a warrant before accessing the data on a person's cell phone, which helps to protect the privacy rights of those under investigation for a crime.


How Can the Police Use Computer Forensics to Access the Data?


Forensics play a critical role in the police's ability to access and retrieve data from a person's cell phone. The process of accessing a cell phone's data can be complex, and requires the use of specialized technology and techniques.


To protect the data on a cell phone from being deleted or altered, the police often use protective bags that prevent the phone from communicating with the cloud. This ensures that the data on the phone remains intact and can be accessed by the forensic experts.


The police may also use a variety of tools and technologies, such as Cellebrite or other forensic software, to crack the security features on a person's cell phone. These tools can be used to bypass passwords, unlock encrypted data, and retrieve deleted or hidden information.


In addition to using specialized technology, the police may also try to trick you into giving them your password. For example, they may ask for your password so they can retrieve your phone numbers to call family or friends, and then write down the password for later use.


It's important to be aware of these tactics and to protect your privacy by being careful about what you share with the police. If you are arrested and your cell phone is seized, it's important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights and protect your privacy.


How Does the Police and Prosecution Use the Data?


One of the primary ways that police and prosecutors use the data obtained from a person's cell phone is to obtain information from social media platforms. By accessing a person's social media accounts, the police can gain a wealth of information about a person's activities and relationships. This information can then be used to obtain a search warrant for the person's entire social media history, including their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other accounts.


Another important way that the police and prosecution use cell phone data is through GPS data. GPS data can be used to determine a person's location at the time of a crime, and can also be used in the case of a DWI to show the person's path of travel and stops to obtain alcohol. This information can be used as evidence against the person in court, and can help to build a stronger case against them.


Text messages are another important source of evidence for the police and prosecution. By accessing a person's text messages, the police can obtain information about the person's communications regarding the crime, including who they were communicating with, what was said, and when it was said. This information can be used to build a case against the person, and can help to establish a pattern of behavior that suggests guilt.


The police can also access a person's photos, which can be used as evidence in court. Photos can be used to show the person's location at the time of the crime, to demonstrate the presence of incriminating objects or substances, or to establish the identity of the person in question.


Even if the police do not obtain direct evidence of a crime through a person's cell phone data, this information can still be used in sentencing if it relates to other bad acts. For example, if the police find evidence of drug use, gang activity, or other criminal behavior through a person's social media accounts, this information can be used to enhance the person's sentence if they are convicted of a crime.


San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney Brad Thornton


If you have been arrested and your cell phone or electronics have been seized, the information can be used in many ways, from accessing your social media accounts to finding your GPS location, to even using your text messages and photos as evidence. It is crucial to consult with a criminal defense attorney if your phone has been seized or you are facing charges. Your attorney can help protect your rights and ensure that the evidence obtained isn’t used against you if your rights were violated in any way.


If you have been arrested and your phone has been seized, call San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney Brad Thornton, a Board-certified criminal defense attorney in San Antonio, for a free consultation at 210-439-5627. With years of experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, he is well-equipped to handle your case and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.

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CRIMINAL LAW BLOG

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Attorney Brad Thornton is a highly experienced and Board-Certified criminal defense lawyer. With his background as a former Chief Prosecutor, he has a unique understanding of the criminal justice system and is able to provide comprehensive and effective representation to his clients. He is also deeply committed to ensuring that all individuals receive fair treatment in court, regardless of their background or circumstances.

Brad Thornton is dedicated to helping his clients achieve the best possible outcome for their case, whether it is in San Antonio or elsewhere in South Texas. He recognizes the stress and anxiety that can come with being accused of a crime, and approaches his clients with compassion while keeping them informed at every step of the process. His knowledge and experience make him a strong advocate for his clients.

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© 2023 by Thornton Criminal Defense, PLLC. 

Atascosa County Criminal Defense Attorney

San Antonio Office:

111 Soledad, Suite 401

San Antonio, Texas 78205

Tel: 210-439-5627

Atascosa Office:

216 N Bryant St

Pleasanton, Texas 78064

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