Man in jail for not unlocking phone could soon be released

- William Montanez has been in jail for 40 days after a Hillsborough County judge held him in contempt of court for failing to unlock his phone during a trial, a phone Montanez says he didn’t remember the password to. Now, his time behind bars could come to an end because of law enforcement's use of a field drug test kit.

Montanez was originally in court facing drug charges after he was pulled over for not properly yielding. A small amount of marijuana was found along with a suspicious liquid substance. Deputies say the results of a field test proved the substance was THC, an illegal drug. 

Deputies then wanted to go through Montanez’s cell phone, but he fought that in court. 

His attorney, Patrick Leduc, called it a “fishing expedition” and a civil rights violation. 

“Can a person be compelled to open up their privacy protected information on their phone simply because they were arrested on something unrelated to the cell phone?” questioned Leduc.

During the trial, prosecutor Tony Flacone disagreed.  “I think it’s appropriate the court order the defendant to show cause.”

A judge agreed with the prosecution, but Montanez told the court he did not know the password. He’s been in jail since. 

More than a month later, Montanez’s attorney is finding out the field test was wrong. 

“They did do a field drug test and it was a false positive, it’s a clear false positive,” Leduc said in an interview. 

State investigators determined the substance was not an illegal drug, something Leduc said he always knew. 

“Our position was always that it was cologne,” he explained

Prosecutors have decided to drop the felony drug charged against Montanez and his attorney is working on getting him out of jail as soon as possible. 

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