Chandler, AZ asked in Criminal Law, Civil Litigation, Civil Rights and Federal Crimes for Arizona

Q: What if cops took my cell phones & illegally erased videos (evidence) from my phones WITHOUT A warrant

1 Lawyer Answer
Mike Branum
Mike Branum
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Saint George, UT
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: Illegal? Absolutely. Can you prove it? Maybe. It would require a previous backup to show what was there and a forensic examination of your phone to determine what was removed and when. You would need to be able to show that when the file was erased the phone was in police control.

The bigger question is: does it matter? If you have been charged with a crime and they destroyed exculpatory evidence, it certainly does. If you were merely being harassed and have not been charged with anything, not nearly as much. It is insulting and illegal either way, but absent a prosecution, neither you nor anyone else is going to go to the expense of trying to prove that it happened. (By the way, there is no such thing as a warrant to destroy evidence. If law enforcement obtains property, with or without a warrant, they are obligated to preserve it absent a court order to the contrary. Such court orders are normally only issued if the property is dangerous (weapon, drug).)

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.