Who can search my cell phone if I’m on probation?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Dealing with probation can seem grueling. While you may be relieved to have an alternative to jail time, some of the restrictions that come with being on probation can feel overwhelming.

One of the challenges of probation is a limited expectation of privacy. It can seem like you always have to be ready for someone to perform a search no matter what you are doing.

Here’s what you should know about when the authorities can search your phone while you are on probation.

What is private?

Over the last several years, there has been some debate over what level of privacy you can expect when it comes to your cell phone. While at one point they were in the same category as other items that might be in your pocket, now they are seen as holding more sensitive information.

Instead of approaching the question of whether your phone is private, a recent case looked at the matter from a different angle. In United States v. Wood, the court determined that people on probation or parole have a limited expectation of privacy.

Privacy on probation

One of the goals of probation is reducing the likelihood that you will commit another crime. Courts intend for probation to be an intermediate step so that you have some freedom, but with a significant amount of supervision.

In previous cases, courts determined that officers do not need a warrant or even reasonable suspicion to conduct a search if you are on parole or probation. In United States v. Wood, the court extended these searches to cell phones.

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