Even private property where people store sensitive information can be used as evidence against them in a criminal trial — that includes their cellphones. Any photos, videos, messages, or other files associated with a criminal offense can easily be accessed by the police, State, or court to prove the commission of the crime beyond reasonable doubt and get the accused convicted.
Risks of Storing Evidence of Crime on Your Phone
While phones are personal property that seems like a good place to keep private information, evidence of crime should never be one of them. A phone is not as private as people think: some people may have access to it, and it can get lost or be subject to a search warrant.
Other People Can Have Access
Some people have no problem sharing their lock screen passwords with the people close to them, giving them access to all the files, photos, videos, and other pieces of information on the device. While one can argue that they only share their passwords with trusted individuals, not everyone will be keen on keeping evidence of a crime a secret — even if the offender is a loved one.
In fact, our law firm has handled a case of a young man who ended up being put behind bars because of photos and videos of crime on his phone. We were able to get him out through bail, but his ex-girlfriend, who still had access to his phone, forwarded the photos and videos of the illegal activity to the probation department. This led to him being sent to jail.
Losing/ Misplacing the Phone
Another thing that can happen is the phone gets lost or misplaced. If it's not password protected, others may find the incriminating evidence and report them to the authorities. It may sound like a long shot, but these strange things do happen in real life.
If the law enforcement has reason to believe that a mobile phone contains evidence of illegal activity, they can apply for and get a search warrant from the judge to allow them to seize the phone and go through it. Any evidence obtained can then be admitted to evidence.
Never Store Evidence of Crime on Your Phone
Evidence of a crime is not something that should be kept on a mobile device, especially if the accused is fighting a case or is under court supervision. To protect themselves, they should wipe out everything that can be used as evidence against them — or better yet, never take photos and videos of the crime in the first place.
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