Leave Your Phone at a Crime Scene and You Lose Your Privacy

/ 8 years ago

Leave your phone at a crime scene, don't expect any privacy from it

We’ve all lost our mobile phones at some point. Some have been lucky enough to get their phones back, be it from someone handing it in somewhere or just tracing your steps back to where you left it. My question is did you ever leave it at a crime scene? If you did then don’t expect to keep your privacy as leaving your phone at a crime scene hasn’t worked out too well for Matthew Muller.

When police found a Samsung Galaxy at the scene of a burglary they figured it was a good day. Phoning 911 from the lock screen let them track down the phone’s number and using this they tracked it back to Muller, figuring he must have dropped his phone while breaking into the house. If that day was good, then maybe the arrest warrant was great as when the police arrived to execute the warrant they found evidence related to a separate crime, a kidnapping case that was reported earlier this year

Muller has pleaded guilty to the burglary but denies any involvement with the kidnapping and with his lawyer saying that the police found out his identity by an “unconstitutional search” of his phone and therefore any evidence against him should be suppressed. District Judge Troy L Nunley disagrees with the lawyers assessment saying that he didn’t think it was “a very difficult issue”. Nunley stated that it couldn’t be expected for Muller to return and pick up his phone and should have expected “no reasonable expectation of privacy [on things] he discards while fleeing” from the crime scene.

The argument comes down to did Muller abandon his phone if he did then he has no expectation of privacy but if he dropped it (unknowingly) then he may retain privacy. The judge doesn’t seem to be buying this with Muller’s case set to go to trial in January with the phone staying as evidence.

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