The court regarded this as “disrespect.”
William Montanez (William Montanez) will spend six months in prison because he could not unlock the smartphones with which he was detained by the police. The man said in court that he forgot the passwords to them, and the judge regarded this as disrespect. This was reported by the television channel Fox 13 News, who attended the court session.
Montanes was detained on June 21 during a trip to the city of Tampa in Florida. The man broke the rules, not giving way during the exit from the secondary highway.
The police decided to search the car of Montanes, but he refused. Then the officers attracted a search dog that found 4.5 grams of marijuana and cannabis oil. Montanes said that he uses them for personal purposes.
Also, the police found in the car someone else’s gun, allegedly owned by his mother, and two smartphones. The police asked him to unlock the devices, probably because of the inscription “Oh my God, they found it” on the screen of one of the phone.
Montanes refused, saying that he does not know passwords for smartphones. Then the police received a search warrant for devices that allegedly contained evidence of “possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis” and “possession of drugs.”
In both charges, Montanes at that time confessed, so it is unclear why the police received the warrant. However, the document played a key role in the court, leading the man to a conclusion.
During the session, the prosecutor asked Montaneza to unlock the phones or explain why he could not do it. The answer “I do not remember passwords” did not suit him. After a few minutes of arguing with the lawyer of Montanes, Patrick Leduc, the judge asked the man to unlock the smartphones based on the warrant.
When the man repeated that he did not remember the passwords, the court regarded this as “disrespectful” and sentenced him to 180 days in prison. Judge Holder noted that if Montanes “suddenly remembers passwords” – he will be released.
After that, Leduke submitted an urgent petition to challenge the judge’s decision. It says that the police contacted a detachment of dog handlers before they talked to a man. According to Lediuk, this looks suspicious.
In 2015, the US Supreme Court determined that the police should not turn stopovers on roads to investigate other possible violations. In addition, the police should have reasons to believe that another crime was committed, and a refusal to inspect the car should not be a reason for suspicion.
As noted by Ledyuk, the police quite legally received a search warrant for smartphones, but the circumstances to which this led, at best, can be called questionable. The lawyer explained that the business of his client to everyone else should be taken as a warning.
If they [the police] arrested you for anything, for example, for drugs, weapons or something else and you had a smartphone with them, they can get an order and search it. And if you do not help them do this, unlock the smartphone, because you want to keep the information secret, then they will send you to prison.