Last week the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that “[y]ou’re not protected by the Fifth Amendment’s right against self-incrimination when a judge orders you to use your fingerprint to unlock your cellphone,” reports Minnesota Public Radio. The justices made a distinction between “oral and physical testimonial communications from a defendant,” which could “reveal the contents of [a defendant’s] mind,” and being forced to provide physical evidence in the form of a fingerprint.
According to Bruce Ringstrom Jr., a criminal defense lawyer at Ringstrom Law, under the current law having a PIN to unlock a phone is the best way to avoid a court compelling the phone’s owner to open it. For a court to compel the production of a memorized PIN “would reveal the contents of a defendant’s mind. This is still prohibited by the Constitution,” Ringstrom says.