Can the police keep my daughter’s cell-phone?

Q: She was with her brother and brother’s friend. She is 16. They went to a gas station and her brother’s friend went in and caused a scene because clerk refused to sell him cigarettes. They left and the clerk called police. Police pulled them over a mile up the road and asked them to get out the car. They searched them and found a gram of cocaine on my daughter. They took her phone and said they are holding it for evidence because she had cocaine on her. The phone is in my name and I asked the officer if I can come get it, but he just laughed and said it was his phone now. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Unless her cell phone is related to the distribution and sale of cocaine, there is probably no nexus to criminal activity. However, if they absolutely will not return it upon request from you or your lawyer, your lawyer will need to file a petition for return of property with the Criminal Division Motion’s Judge. The police probably have had enough time to go through it and determine if it is related to drug activity.

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