SB 1823

85(R) - 2017
Senate Criminal Justice
Senate Criminal Justice
Criminal Procedure

Companion Bill

HB 2450

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Neutral


Konni Burton

Bill Caption

Relating to a warrant authorizing the search of a cellular telephone or other wireless communications device.

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated. 

Bill Analysis

Under current law, a peace officer may search a cellular telephone without a warrant if the phone is reported as stolen by the owner or possessor. SB 1823 would alter this provision to only allow for unwarranted and unconsented search when the officer reasonably believes the device is stolen and only searches information relevant to identifying the owner of the phone. This bill would also allow a justice or other magistrate otherwise authorized to issue other warrants to issue warrants for phone searches.

Vote Recommendation Notes

This bill would expand the circumstances under which a law enforcement officer may look through a person's mobile phone or wireless communication device. Current law only allows this if the owner or possessor of the device consents to the search or if the device has been reported stolen. Allowing an officer to look through a phone he reasonably believes to be stolen is more expansive, particularly since "reasonably believes" is not defined. Furthermore, the bill allows an officer wide latitude to look at pretty much any information on the device until they are able to determine who the owner of the phone is. Under this scenario an officer could look through everything on the phone while claiming to not have determined who the owner is. There is also no protection to ensure that incidental information discovered while searching a phone without a warrant may not be used as evidence against the owner of the phone. For these reasons we oppose HB 2450.

Organizations Supporting

Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas
Texas Press Association