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Could changes in California search laws affect Floridians?

There are many laws and ideals that form the foundation of the criminal justice system in this country, including the right to legal representation and the fact that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. These rights stand the test of time and will likely never change.

However, there are some rules and practices for how our criminal justice system operates that may not be quite as immutable. For example, when the laws regarding legal searches and seizures were put into place, there was no reason to ever consider how they would be affected by the advent and rampant use of personal cellphones. Because of this, some states are refining and redefining existing privacy laws to reflect searches of cellphones.

Most recently, California state law will now require police to have a search warrant before searching anything on a person's cellphone or getting access to personal information. This means that they cannot collect information from companies like Google, record transmissions with devices like smart TVs without warning or tap into cellphones without a warrant.

The recent changes to privacy laws are being referred to as an example of the type of comprehensive laws that other states, including Florida, are encouraged to adopt in order to more thoroughly protect residents. The changes are said to reflect the rapidly evolving world of technology and how we communicate.

Unfortunately, similar legislative changes have not been made at the federal level, either; at least, not yet. It will certainly be interesting to see if and how that ultimately happens.

In the meantime, Florida residents should use this as a reminder that you may not have the type of privacy and protection you think you do when it comes to the images and messages you send or receive on your phone. If you find yourself in a situation where materials found on your phone have led to criminal charges, you would be wise to protect yourself and your rights by speaking with an experienced attorney.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, "California digital privacy laws boosted, protecting consumers from Big Brother, big business," Tracy Seipel and Eric Kurhi, Oct. 9, 2015

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