Can the police legally take a person’s cell phone without a warrant?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can the police legally take a person’s cell phone without a warrant?

My son ex-girlfriend sent him pictures of her naked. He didn’t send any of him back. They are both under 18. The mom of the gf found out and decided to come to my house about this. Apparently, they must have broken up. There was no parent at home when this had taken place. The girlfriend mom called the police over to my house, they knocked on the door to talk to my son. They called me but apparently didn’t tell me everything that was going on. However, in the end my son’s phone was taken for evidence. Is this legal? My son didn’t have any parent there while this happened.

Asked on April 12, 2016 under Criminal Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No warrnat is needed if something was visibly evidence of a crime (e.g. if the police saw the naked pictures on the phone) or if that fact that it was evidence of a crime was admitted to the police (e.g. if you son admitted the presence of the pictures to the police). 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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