Seattle, WA asked in Criminal Law for Washington

Q: Is it legal to use a personal stolen item as evidence against the person it was taken from?

My vehicle was parked at my ex- girlfriends house and she got into my vehicle and took my cell phone. She accessed information from my cell phone and then turned my cell phone in to the sheriff's department so they could access info from my cell phone to use as evidence. Is this legal for them to access info from my cell phone seeing as how she unlawfully entered my vehicle and stole my cell phone and accessed personal info without my consent or knowledge?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Cristine Beckwith
Cristine Beckwith
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Licensed in Washington

A: Sorry to hear this happened. The Constitution protects against the government doing illegal search and seizures...however, this protection does not apply to private citizens who are turning over information or items to law enforcement.

However, if the government (law enforcement) is asking the private citizen to obtain a cell phone from a third party, search and seizure laws will apply.

It is very important that you speak to an attorney and avoid making any statements to law enforcement.

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