Law enforcement needs a search warrant just to look at the lock screen on your smartphone, a Seattle judge is serving as a thief who says the FBI turned on his phone and looked at the screen
- Judge Coughenour made the decision in US District Court in Seattle Monday in favor of Joseph Sam, who was arrested for robbery and assault in May 2019
- Coughenour said that looking at an individual’s lock screen is classified as a search term that enforcement cannot do without a search warrant
- An arrested officer turned on Sam’s smartphone and looked at the lock screen
- The judge said sometimes police officers can conduct a search without a warrant so it can be constitutional in certain circumstances
- But seven months later, an FBI agent reopened the suspect̵7;s phone and took a lock screen photo
- The judge said it was unconstitutional because the FBI could not conduct the search without a warrant
- FBI evidence obtained from a cellphone screen belonging to Joseph Sam – who was arrested for robbery and assault in May 2019 – has now been discarded
Law enforcement needs a search warrant to simply look at the lock screen on a suspect’s smartphone, according to a Seattle judge’s ruling.
Judge John Coughenour made a shock ruling in the U.S. District Court in Seattle Monday that the FBI had violated the constitutional rights of a thief when an agent turned on his phone and viewed the screen .
Coughenour said looking at an individual’s lock screen is classified as a search term that law enforcement can’t do without a search warrant.
The decision means evidence obtained by law enforcement from a cellphone screen belonging to Joseph Sam – who was arrested for robbery and assault in May 2019 – has now been thrown out.
Viewing an individual’s lock is classified as a finding that means law enforcement can’t do it without a warrant, according to a Seattle judge’s decision.
However, the Washington state judge ruled that some evidence from the screen could be retained, as police officials could conduct a search without a warrant while the FBI could not.
The judge’s decision was based on two separate incidents that began when Sam was arrested in May 2019.
One of the arrested cops turned on Sam’s Motorola smartphone and looked at the lock screen.
Then, seven months after his arrest in February, an FBI agent re-turned the suspect’s phone and took a lock screen photo.
The name ‘Streezy’ is displayed across the screen.
Sam’s lawyer filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained by law enforcement from the lock screen saying a search warrant was required to look at the screen.
Coughenour ruled that both incidents were classified as searches but that the search at the time of arrest and the search were later two separate issues.
Judge John Coughenour (pictured) made a shocking decision in US District Court in Seattle Monday that the FBI violated the robbery of suspect Joseph Sam’s constitutional rights when an agent turned on his phone and looked the screen
The judge said police could conduct searches without a search warrant under certain circumstances at the time of arrest, including if the search was’ either incident to a legal arrest or as part of a search warrant. of police efforts to inventory personal effects’.
This means that police viewing the phone’s lock screen at the time of arrest may not be a violation of the suspect’s rights.
However the judge said he needed additional evidence to determine if the search was being conducted for one of those reasons.
But the FBI’s last date search did not contract and violated the Fourth Amendment rights, the judge ruled, because the FBI could not conduct the search without a warrant.
‘The FBI physically intervened in Mr Sam’s personal impact when the FBI powered his phone to take a picture of the phone’s lock screen,’ Coughenour said.
FBI evidence from Sam’s cellphone has since been suppressed.
The government argues the phone’s lock screen is public to anyone when the phone is in power so no privacy is expected.
The judge dismissed this argument saying: ‘When the Government obtains evidence by physically invading a constitutionally protected area – as the FBI has done here – it is not necessary to consider’ if the government also violates the infringement in the reasonable expectation of the defendant’s privacy. ‘