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What kind of evidence can the police get from a phone?

by | Jun 5, 2023 | Criminal Defense

In a criminal investigation, police officers are often eager to secure any evidence they can connecting an individual to certain crimes. Officers will search people and get warrants to go through their homes and vehicles. They may also want to search an individual’s mobile device.

Some people, confident that they haven’t done anything significant to violate the law, will agree when police officers ask to go through their phones. They often don’t realize until it is too late exactly how much evidence the police can get from someone’s phone. What mobile phone contents may have an impact on criminal charges in Texas?

Messaging history, emails and social media use

One of the ways that prosecutors establish someone’s likelihood of committing a crime is to paint them as volatile, aggressive or addicted. How someone communicates with their friends and family, what they share on social media and even the companies that they exchange emails with can all contribute to the state’s case either by corroborating their timeline for certain activities or helping create an impression of the individual as dangerous.

Location data

Mobile phones constantly interact with the network, and therefore, they both collect and transmit information about a person’s location. GPS records from a phone or a service provider’s cell tower records could help officers place an individual at the scene of a crime or show the courts details about someone’s daily schedule and behaviors. Location data can be used to exonerate people, but it can also implicate someone.

Internet search history

What people look at and purchase online could give officers an idea about whether they planned a criminal incident or purchased materials used in a crime. Even in scenarios where people go through and manually delete certain records from the device itself, police officers could still obtain full records from app companies or telephone service providers.

Although the police can access such information lawfully in certain cases, they often need a warrant or someone’s permission to look through a device. Understanding how many details could implicate an individual might help them to make a truly informed choice if an officer asks to look through their phone in relation to a criminal investigation.