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Can Cell Phone Evidence Be Used in Court?

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Can Cell Phone Evidence Be Used in Court?

Most of us have access to a cell phone. In fact, many of these smartphones are high-powered electronic devices that can not only make and receive phone calls but can also search the internet, post on social media, and take photos and videos with ease. 

With that said, your phone could contain a ton of evidence that could potentially be used in a criminal case. This is especially true if you witnessed a crime and took a video of the crime taking place. However, based on the circumstances, this evidence may or may not be admissible in court. 

First of all, under Michigan law, recording and disclosing a private conversation are prohibited without the consent of all parties. This applies to in-person and phone conversations. So if you have consent from everyone involved, then you would be able to voluntarily submit evidence for a criminal case.

Can Police Use a Search Warrant?

According to the Michigan Supreme Court, evidence can only be used if it is related to the crime listed in the warrant. This means that there are limitations involved, particularly if multiple crimes were committed by the same person. 

A police officer can search the contents of a cell phone, but only within the scope of the warrant. While an officer is not required to stop searching when the evidence is not covered by the search warrant, the courts must consider whether the steps involved in the search process were reasonable. 

Relevant factors include:

  • The nature of the criminal activity¬†
  • The type of digital data likely to contain relevant evidence
  • The timing of the search in regard to when the warrant was issued
  • The technology available to allow officers to separate and view relevant and non-relevant evidence
  • The digital device being searched
  • The type of search used

Possible Cell Phone Evidence Problems

Cell phone evidence may be helpful in some cases, but there are situations in which a video may not be useful. Some examples include:

  • Lighting. Poor lighting can make it difficult to tell certain features of the video. Can the person in the video be easily identified?¬†
  • Location. Where was the video filmed? Is it easy to tell, or is the video footage too blurry?
  • Timing. The time of recording may come into question if your video showed something that could not have occurred at a specific time.¬†

So can cell phone evidence be used in Michigan court? There is no simple answer. It depends on the situation. There are always nuances and exceptions to the law, so discuss your specific situation with a criminal defense lawyer. 

Contact Us Today

The use of evidence is a tricky area, as it often conflicts with state laws. If you have concerns, contact the experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyers from Lucido & Manzella, P.C. Our team is on your side, and we are ready to defend you. To schedule a consultation, give us a call at (586) 228-3900 or contact us online.

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