The Fifth Amendment protects United States citizens from incriminating themselves. For several years, courts have maintained that this right extended to phones and other devices that can be kept locked via passcode. Now, the highest court in New Jersey has reversed course on this long-held observation, granting authorities the ability to, with the proper paperwork, force a defendant to turn over any private and personal thoughts, feelings, and actions they have documented on their devices.
According to the justices, “neither federal nor state protections against compelled disclosure” can shield a defendant against a lawfully issued search warrant. The majority opinion went on to suggest that the State has a right to a defendant’s “cellphones’ purportedly incriminating contents” irrespective of Constitutional protections.
Do I Have to Give the Cops My Password?
No. You cannot legally be forced to hand over your passwords to an officer during a routine stop. Nor can you legally be forced to give up passwords during questioning. If you are being threatened, coerced, or in any other way bullied into giving up information, demand an attorney immediately and refuse to say anything else.
A search warrant, obtained through proper legal channels, can be used to compel you to provide your passwords to the State. Demand these requests go through your attorney. Remember, a criminal defense attorney helps to protect you against the predatory tactics used by the State and its representatives to force confessions or otherwise intimidate alleged criminals into working against themselves.
You have the right to legal representation before you answer questions. You have the right to maintain your silence unless your attorney is present. You have the right to keep your information private until a warrant has been issued and reviewed for legality.
You have rights. Having an attorney on your side as soon as you are accused of a crime is one of the best ways to make sure you are treated fairly, that your rights are preserved, and that justice is truly served.
Please call Shapiro & Sternlieb at 732-617-8050 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers. We serve men and women accused of criminal activity in Englishtown and surrounding areas of New Jersey.