Thursday, February 10, 2011
Ohio Court Allows Search of Computer
An Ohio court recently reviewed the search of a computer. The case is State v. Trotter.
In this case, the victim, a middle-school aged female, and some friends attended a party at the defendant’s home. While she was intoxicated, she was sexually assaulted by the defendant.
After the defendant was arrested, the police asked his wife her consent to take clothing from the home and to take photos. She consented. Later, she also consented to a complete search of the home. During this serach, the police seized a computer. The nmext day, the wife consented to a search of the computer's contents. This search revealed child pornography, and a warrant was later obtained for a more detailed forensic review of the computer.
The question before the court was whether the defendant’s wife had freely and voluntarily given consent for the serach of the computer. The court found that the wife “voluntarily and freely gave her consent to the police to search the home, to take the computer, and to search the computer's contents. [She] testified that no threats or promises were made to obtain each consent and that she was not under any type of duress when she gave each consent.”
A key to this decision may be that the defendant had made no effort to encrypt or otherwise limit access to the computer.