When Can the Police Search My Phone? What if They Find Pornography or Drug Photos?

Handcuff with mobile

Our cell phones contain vast amounts of personal information, and if you are under investigation for any criminal offense, the data on your cell phone can be beneficial to law enforcement’s investigation. If the police find you have child pornography or evidence of corruption of others on your phone, criminal charges will result. If you have been charged with a drug or child pornography crime such as those listed in this article, it is important to know your cell phone rights before and after the search.

Common Reasons Police Want to Search Your Phone and Charges That May Result

Law enforcement may ask to search your phone to aid their investigation of nearly any crime – menacing, theft, vandalism, drugs, assault, and many others. Once your phone data is accessed by law enforcement, the possession of nude photos or evidence of corruption on your phone will lead to an additional criminal accusation.

If police have received information leading them to believe you possess such material on your phone and you don’t voluntarily give them access, they will ask a judge to sign a warrant for the phone.

Common pornography charges stemming from phone searches include Pandering Obscenities and Illegal Use of Nudity Material. There are several variations on these charges, each of which carry its own consequences if convicted.

  • “Pandering Obscenities” Ohio Revised Code 2907.32- 2907.324
    •  No person shall knowingly create, reproduce, or publish any obscene material with the knowledge that it will be commercially used for exploitation or publicly displayed.. 
    •  A felony of the 5th degree
  • Pandering obscenities of a minor or impaired person is any obscene material
    • When minor or impaired person is one of the participants or portrayed observers 
    • A felony of the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th degree 
    • Mistake of age is not a defense against this charge
    • Anyone appearing to be under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or sleeping can be interpreted as impaired
  • Illegal Use of Minor or Impaired Person in Nudity-Oriented Material or Performance
    • A felony of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th degree
  • Compelling Acceptance of Objectionable Materials Ohio Revised Code 
    • No person shall require a purchaser or consignee to accept obscene material
    • A felony of the 5th degree
  • Corrupting another with Drugs Ohio Revised Code 2925.02 
    • No person shall through force, threat, or deception, cause another to use a controlled substance
    •  A felony of the 1st or 2nd degree

If any of the charges listed involve a minor or impaired person, heftier consequences will be imposed if convicted. 

How Will An Attorney in Delaware, OH Defend My Rights?

Should law enforcement ask you to open your phone via face, fingerprint, or passcode, they must have your consent or a warrant. Generally warrants are served without warning. You may feel nervous or pressured into opening your phone, but even if there is a warrant, it does not mean you need to open the phone without an attorney present.

As soon as you are made aware that there is a warrant for your phone, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced criminal defense attorney can work with law enforcement to arrange the delivery of the material that is subject to the warrant. They may also be able to limit the scope of the search.

Should police find evidence to support their accusation, a criminal defense attorney will formulate a defense strategy that best suits your goals and provide the best chance of a favorable outcome.. 

If you have been accused of a child pornography crime before or after a phone search by police. An experienced criminal lawyer can help you put together an aggressive defense, which may help you avoid potentially life-changing consequences. 

Written by The Law Office of Brian Jones, LLC


Ohio Revised Code 2907 & 2925


Ohio Revised Code 2925.02 

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