Fresno Criminal Attorney Asks: Can Police Use Your Smartphone Fingerprint Feature as Evidence?

Mar 01, 2017

For a wide variety of crimes, technological developments are opening up new possibilities for police to obtain evidence.
One potential piece of evidence they may want to collect and use to establish their case is a smartphone fingerprint, such as the Touch ID used for iPhones.
What are some possible scenarios where police may want to use your smartphone fingerprint feature?
The main situation where this would come up is when police believe your phone contains evidence for a particular crime. They may want you to unlock the phone with your fingerprint, which would give them access to images, texts, contacts, and other information possibly connected to the crime. (It's also worth noting that they could come across information unconnected to the specific crime they're investigating.)
Another scenario is that they have a smartphone in their possession and aren't sure who it belongs to; could they have a few people try to unlock the phone with the fingerprint ID feature?
What are your rights?
Ars Technica recently published an article discussing some cases involving smartphone fingerprints in California and Illinois. Here are some of the issues that come up:
  • Whether the police have a warrant to search your phone.
  • Whether using the fingerprint ID feature on your smartphone is a form of self-incriminatory testimony that the Constitution would offer protections against.
  • The data that police are allowed to use as evidence if they obtain access to the contents of your phone.
To ensure that your rights are protected, it's critical to contact an experienced attorney. Your attorney will carefully review your case to determine whether the police have behaved justly and fairly, in accordance with the law. Smartphones are rich with information, and a lot of it can be used against you during criminal proceedings. You need an attorney who will advocate for you and safeguard your rights.

Category: Criminal Defense

Michael Mitchell


Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.