Police Have No Right to Take Your Cell Phone

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This ruling in Pennsylvania Superior Court may come in handy one day.

Commonwealth v. Wright, 99 A.3d 565 (Pa. Super. Aug. 29, 2014): per Stabile, J., held that the “plain view doctrine did not operate to justify warrantless seizure of defendant’s [cell phone].” Under the Fourth Amendment and Article I, § 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, “plain view doctrine permits a warrantless seizure if . . .1) [the] police did not violate the Fourth Amendment during the course of their arrival at the location where they viewed the item in question; 2) the item was not obscured and could be seen plainly from that location; 3) the incriminating nature of the item was readily apparent; and 4) police had the lawful right to access the item.” Here, the court held that the police did not have any evidence that the cell phone in question had any relation to the crime they were investigating and thus failed the third factor the plain view test

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