People v. Diaz, S166600

By FindLaw Staff on January 04, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Warrantless search of text messages in defendant's cell phone valid incident to lawful custodial arrest

People v. Diaz, S166600, concerned a challenge to the court of appeals' affirmance of the trial court's denial of a motion to suppress evidence of text messages in defendant's cell phone, in a conviction of defendant for selling Ecstasy.  In affirming, the court held that, under the United States Supreme Court's binding precedent, the law enforcement officers' search of the text message folder of defendant's cell phone taken from his person after the arrest, approximately 90 minutes after lawfully arresting defendant and transporting him to a detention facility, is valid as being incident to a lawful custodial arrest.

As the court wrote: "We hold that the cell phone was "immediately associated with defendant's person," and that the warrantless search of the cell phone therefore was valid. As the People explain, the cell phone "was an item of personal property on defendant's person at the time of his arrest and during the administrative processing at the police station."  In this regard, it was like the clothing taken from the defendant in Edwards and the cigarette package taken from the defendant's coat pocket in Robinson, and it was unlike the footlocker in Chadwick, which was separate from the defendant's persons and was merely within the "area" of their "'immediate control.'"

Related Link:
Copied to clipboard