NACDL - Device and Account Searches

Device and Account Searches

Nearly every case involves a cell phone or an online account. Laws on device and account searches are continuing to evolve, as courts reconsider old doctrines that do not fit with the realities of the digital age. Below, find sample motions on suppressing emails, passcodes, and other electronically stored information.

Video Trainings

Digital Device Searches: Searching Computers, Phones, and Even Your Home Appliances
November 2018
Esha Bhandari, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project; Catherine Crump, Director, Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at U.C. Berkeley School of Law; Michael Price, Senior Litigation Counsel, NACDL Fourth Amendment Center

Border Searches: Keeping the Government Out of Your Digital Devices at the Border
Esha Bhandari, Staff Attorney, Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, American Civil Liberties Union


Sample Motions

  • Motion to Quash Email Warrant or Require Protocols

  • Motion to Suppress Emails and Electronically Stored Information

  • Motion to Reconsider Court's Order Compelling Respondent to Provide Device Passcode

  • Motion to Suppress Evidence Seized Pursuant to the Initial Search Warrants Executed at [Redacted]'s Premises and Memorandum of Law in Support

  • Motion to Suppress Evidence 

  • Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained From the Search of Defendants' Cell Phones

  • Motion for Return of Property Pursuant to Rule 41(g)

  • Motion for Return of Property Seized from AOL and Yahoo

  • Motion for Relief Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g) and for Expungement


Additional Resources

Can the government force someone to decrypt a digital device?

Encryption is as omnipresent as computers, tablets and smartphones, yet the Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutional implications of compelled decryption orders. The Center has published a Compelled Decryption Primer that outlines the state of the law and offers guidance for lawyers litigating this important emerging issue. The realities of modern technology require a rethinking of old doctrines to adequately safeguard constitutional rights into the future. Using this primer, attorneys can educate themselves on the basics of compelled decryption and come equipped with arguments and cases when confronting a decryption order.

Read the rest of the primer here.


Need a motion for Cellebrite UFED reports?

Read the rest of the request language here.


How can you protect your devices from searches?

Encryption: Part I
Jack Gillum, reporter, Associated press; and Neema Singh Guliani, Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union

Encryption: Part II
Harlo Holmes, digital security trainer and Mobile Developer, The Guardian Project

Flash Talk: Protecting Your Communications from Big Brother
November 2018
Matt Mitchell, Director of Digital Safety & Privacy for Tactical Tech