Can police in Florida legally compel a defendant in a criminal case to unlock their cell phones? Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers understand that question for now remains unresolved, after the defendant reached a plea deal, rendering appeal to the Florida Supreme Court moot.
As a local NPR affiliate reported, the question arose from a case out of Alachua County, an alleged drug-deal-turned-robbery. One of the victims reportedly recognized one of the defendants whose mask was temporarily removed. Police questioned the defendant (now 22) and seized his cell phone from his vehicle. But it was locked by a passcode.
Police asked asked a judge to compel the defendant provide the passcode. Like many government agencies in recent years, police argued this type of digital encryption, protecting personal information stored in an electronic device like a smartphone or iPad, can impede criminal investigations. Continue reading