Our clients often inquire about the duration of police retention of their electronic devices, such as laptops, iPads, computers, or cell phones, seized during a criminal investigation. The outcome hinges on various factors,  including primarily whether the police uncover relevant evidence on the devices and the nature of that evidence.

Key Considerations

  • Search Warrant and Forensic Analysis:
    • Legal Process: Police must obtain a search warrant from a Judge or Justice of the Peace to conduct a forensic analysis of the seized electronic devices.
    • Analyzing Evidence: The nature of the crime dictates the type of evidence sought, ranging from threatening messages to more serious offences such as child pornography.
  • Relevance of Evidence:
    • Supporting the Crime: If the analysis reveals evidence supporting the alleged crime (e.g., harassing messages), the devices will be retained until the conclusion of the trial.
    • No Incriminating Evidence: In cases where no relevant evidence is found, the devices are likely to be returned within a reasonable time frame.
  • Prohibited Usage and Trial Outcome:
    • Child Pornography Cases: Individuals involved in child pornography cases, especially if the device was used to commit the crime, may not have their devices returned, particularly if they are convicted.
    • Trial Outcome Impact: The outcome of the trial can influence whether and when the devices are returned.

Legal Guidance

The timeline for the return of electronic devices varies based on the specific circumstances of each case. If the devices are crucial to the prosecution’s case, they will be retained until the conclusion of legal proceedings.  Depending on whether the accused is eventually found guilty and the nature of the evidence found on their device,  it may or may not be returned to them upon completion of a guilty plea or trial. Conversely, if no incriminating evidence is found, the return may occur promptly.

For personalized insights into your situation, we recommend consulting with our legal team. We can provide guidance based on the specifics of your case, addressing concerns about the retention and potential return of your electronic devices.

For legal assistance and guidance, contact our office for a free consultation.

Video Transcription:

Our firm represents a lot of clients. They come to our office and they’ve been charged with a particular crime and as part of the investigation the police have seized their electronic device. Their laptop, their iPad, their computer, their cell phone because the police want to do a further investigation to see if there’s evidence which supports and proves the crime in addition to the other evidence they have and they’ll ask us you know “will I get this back? I mean these are expensive devices, I’ve got an expensive computer. Will I ever get it back?” The answer to that really depends on a) whether the police find something of help to them in solving the crime, in proving the crime or b) the nature of what’s found on the computer.So let me give you an example. They are going to search, they have to get a search warrant by the way to open the devices and search. They’re going to do that after they seize it. Go before a Judge or Justice of the Peace to get a search warrant, doing a forensic analysis of the computer or look for whatever they are looking for whether it’s Facebook threatening messages, whether it text, whether it’s harassing messages or things like child pornography if it’s a child pornography case. So it really depends. So if they find things like Facebook and text messages which support harassment, they are going to need that evidence for the trial if you go to trial and you’re not going to get that computer back perhaps until the end of the trial. You’d probably get it back in that scenario at the end of trial because the computer probably wasn’t used as a crime itself in a sense like child pornography you’re using the firm to search your child pornography, that type of person who is found with child pornography, they’re not going to get their devices back. Obviously in fact they’re going to if they lose their trial, they’re going to be prohibited from using a computer any way and they’re not going to get that one back. If they don’t find anything on the computer obviously they’ll give that back within a reasonable time period. So either you’re going to get it back soon, you’re going to get it back sometime after the trial or you’re never going to get it back depending on the situation. So that’s the short answer to those particular questions. It really depends on the facts of your particular case and we can help you with that, answer that question if you come to our office.

Contact Us

Complete the form below to get a free meeting and quote.

Protected By Google reCAPTCHA | Privacy - Terms