The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people against unreasonable search and seizure. In other words, absent a warrant, they cannot be searched, and their property cannot be taken by the police as part of a criminal investigation. There are exceptions, though, including border searches. Recently, a Florida court examined a traveler’s constitutional right to be free from searches in a case where the defendant was charged with numerous sex crimes after his phone was taken upon his entry into Florida. If you are accused of a sex offense, it is in your best interest to speak to a Clearwater sex crime defense lawyer about what measures you can take to protect your rights.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that the defendant returned to Florida after an international cruise. One week prior, the Coast Guard contacted border patrol to inform them that the defendant was the target of a human trafficking investigation. When the defendant arrived at the port, he was detained by border patrol, and his phone was seized and sent to a Homeland Security office, where data was extracted from it and it was analyzed.
Allegedly, about two months later, the police obtained a warrant to search the defendant, largely relying on the information taken from his phone. The defendant was ultimately arrested and charged with ten crimes, including sex trafficking, fraud, and coercion. He moved to suppress the evidence obtained from his phone, arguing that the seizure and search happened without probable cause, a warrant, or exigent circumstances.