JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The cellphone has become a lifeline in today's society. Most users believe the content is private and not to be shared without permission.
On Friday, June 15, the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled in 'Florida vs Ricardo Glasco' that law enforcement can search a cell phone without a warrant.
The state argued that law enforcement had a right to look at the contents of the defendant's cell phone without first obtaining a search warrant; the court agreed.
Russell Smith,a criminal defense lawyer, feels the ruling is far reaching.
"I think that the constitution is a living breathing document and we have to apply the protections in the constitution to citizens in a way that is relevant given what today's society involves and that means technology and your home should be considered the same," said Smith.
It has become an issue of public safety versus privacy, and technology is way advanced of the existing laws.
Today, cell phones are more than just conversation; a smartphone contains your pictures, text conversations, emails, banking information and much more.
"This is a computer in your pocket," said Smith, "There have to be protections the same way the police can't kick in the front door of your house, the same way they can't seize your property without due process."
Attorney Smith said the 11th District Court recently issued a ruling in a different case that limits what law enforcement can do.
"The federal appellate court for our area ruled that a criminal suspect cannot be forced to give you the password to phone or computer," said Smith.
Smith said until there's a clear ruling from the Florida Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court, if it gets that far, it is smart to always have your cell phone password protected.
"If people have their phone password protected," said Smith,"it may give them an extra level of protection against government intrusion."
Quoting Ben Franklin, Smith said people who give up liberty in search of safety deserve neither.
JSO spokesperson Lori-Ellen Smith said the department will search cellphones during any circumstance where a warrant is issued or an owner gives consent.
First Coast News