Searches of Electronic Devices

Travelers in the United States need to be prepared to have digital device like cell phones and laptops searched by United States law enforcement. Statistics compiled by the Customers and Border Protection reveal that border agents are increasing the number of electronic device searches. This data reveals that over the last six months, nearly 15,000 electronic devices were searched. In response to this statistic, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Department has responded that the agency will conduct these searches if a situation warrants doing so.

Existing Law Regarding the Search of Wireless Devices

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is a federal law that protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizures by the government. The category of what includes a reasonable search, however, has been better defined over the years. In 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that law enforcement cannot search a person’s electronic devices without a warrant. This law does not apply in all situations, however, For example, the United States government has the authority to search the data of any citizen’s electronic devices without probable cause at any port of entry into the country. While individuals are not required to comply with this law, refusing to submit to such a search will often result in the government taking away a person’s electronic devices. If foreigners, however, refuse such a search, there is a risk of being denied entry into the United States.  

Advice on How to Prepare Electronic Devices for Traveling Across Border Lines

While the United States has increased measures at border points to search the electronic devices of individuals, there are some important steps that can be taken to avoid complications arising from this type of search. Some of the essential steps that individuals are recommended to take include the following:

  • Enter a Password Yourself. If an individual decides to provide law enforcement with a password at a border patrol point, it is an extremely good idea for the individual to enter this password into their own device rather than directly provide the information to the border patrol office. Individuals should also avoid providing a border patrol officer with a password that is known to be fake because this type of activity could potentially result in an obstruction charge.
  • Store Sensitive Data in a Cloud Account. If an individual has very important electronic files that they wish to preserve, it is a wise idea to place this data on a cloud account with a secure password.
  • Travel with as Few Devices and as Little Data as Possible. The less that an individual possesses at a border point, the less that there will be for law enforcement to search.

Retain the Assistance of an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Each year, a large number of individuals have their electronic devices searched by the government. If you are subject to such a search and face resulting criminal consequences, it is a wise idea to immediately retain the assistance of a skilled attorney who can help create a strong legal defense. By contacting Federal Criminal Law Center today, you can make sure that you have the representation required to make sure that your case resolves in a positive manner. Contact our office at 404.633.3797 or complete our online form.