Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Police Can -- And Will -- Search Abandoned Cell Phones

A case from Delaware illustrates why you should not abandon a cell phone.  While it may seem obvious, this is especially true when the cell phone contains evidence of a crime.

In this case, the defendant had been living at his sister's home without her knowledge or permission. When he departed, he left two cell phones behind. His sister found them and later gave police access to them. The police did a cursory examination of the phones to determine who was the owner.  The officer observed messages related to a robbery, and then obtained a search warrant for the contents of the phone.

The court ruled that the defendant could not have raised a viable motion to suppress this evidence because the phones were abandoned and the defendant therefore had no legitimate expectation of privacy.

The defendant is now serving a 74 year sentence for robbery, kidnapping, and other related charges. 

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