William Montanez is facing 6 months in jail after refusing to unlock his phones in court, reported Fox 13.
It began as a civil rights fight in a Tampa, Florida courtroom after Montanez was pulled over on June 21 for not properly yielding. Police should have either given him a warning or a ticket, but instead they asked to search the vehicle.
Montanez used his constitutional right to refuse the search. Police proved that the constitution doesn’t actually apply anymore and brought in a police dog to take away his rights and they searched the car anyway.
A small amount of marijuana was found, so police also asked to search his cell phones.
Montanez said no, so detectives got a warrant, and that is what led to the interesting day in court.
“Basically, my client has been denied his liberty today without due process,” said attorney Patrick Leduc.
Leduc says police are just fishing.
“There is no information that the state can show, until I can challenge the warrant itself, that says, ‘Hey, what’s on these two cell phones are directly related to a possession of misdemeanor marijuana,’” argued Leduc.
Prosecutor Tony Falcone says the warrant is lawful. “I think it’s appropriate the court order the defendant to show cause.”
Judge Gregory Holder ruled police can search your cell phone without your permission, even if there is no legitimate probable cause, as in this case.
Montanez said the 2 phones were new and he could not remember the passwords. Apparently no one told him the “i don’t remember” line only works for politicians.
Judge Holder then found him in civil contempt and threw him in jail. Holder also ruled if Montanez suddenly remembers his passwords then he will be released from jail. Otherwise he could spend 6 months locked up.
Leduc says what happened to Montanez could happen to any of us.
“If they arrest you for anything — whether it’s drugs, guns, you name it — and an electronic device is nearby, they can get a search warrant and search it. And if you don’t provide that information to search it, to unlock, because you want to keep the information private, we’ll put you in jail,” said Leduc.
If you would like to contact the courthouse and let them know what you think about this ridiculous sentence, the telephone number to judge Holder’s 13 circuit court is (813) 272-5894.