In 2014 US Supreme Court in Riley v. California, 573 U.S. ___ (2014) held that police needs a warrant to search the data on your phone. Notice that I put data not the phone itself. Police can check and search the “physical aspects” of your phone for their protection. They can check if there are no razor blades or other instruments that can injure him or her.
So if the officer asks you for a password, you do not have to give it to him. But if the police get a warrant and you won’t provide a password, they can crack a password. Also, you can be put in contempt of court for not complying with the judges’s order. However by giving your password you consent to a search and anything found can and will be used against you. The following opinion of the court was delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts
(1) The digital data stored on cell phones does not present either Chimel risk. Pp. 10–15.
(i) Digital data stored on a cell phone cannot itself be used as a weapon to harm an arresting officer or to effectuate the arrestee’s escape. Officers may examine the phone’s physical aspects to ensure that it will not be used as a weapon, but the data on the phone can endanger no one.
To the extent that a search of cell phone data might warn officers of an impending danger, e.g., that the arrestee’s confederates are headed to the scene, such a concern is better addressed through consideration of case-specific exceptions to the warrant requirement, such as exigent circumstances.
Keep in mind that it does not apply at the border crossings. At border crossing in almost all cases the border guards can search your phone without a warrant. If you won’t provide a password they can take your phone and laptop and crack it without a warrant.
Contact Michalak Law Firm at 888.SHARK.40 or 323-828-0258 for free consultation.