CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, April 4, 2005

Search of Camera Phone Pix After DUI Arrest

I suppose the Robinson case permits searching the contents of a camera phone or other electronic device incident to arrest.  So why was a Houston Police Officer suspended for so thoughoughly searching a DUI arrestee?  Because he downloaded the contents of the camera phone to his PDA, and the pix were of the arrestee in a state of undress. [Jack Chin] UPDATE: I'm turning on comments after receiving an email suggesting that a search incident to arrest of a camera phone might not be permitted.  I read Robinson as allowing a search (at least of an object closely associated with the person of an arrestee) even if there is no reason to believe it will turn up a weapon or evidence of the crime.  Am I wrong?[Jack Chin]

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Over at CrimProf, Jack Chin asks if the police can access the contents of person's cell phone incident to a valid arrest. By way of background, the Supreme Court... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 4, 2005 8:47:10 AM


I don't think the suspension was for the search. It was for the personal use of the photos gained from the search.

Posted by: Juli Crow | Apr 4, 2005 9:14:26 AM

As a matter of practice, the searching (incident to arrest) of the memory of pagers, cell phones, and PDAs for alphanumeric information (usually names, phone numbers, and addresses) is routine in law enforcement today.

Officers who don't do it as a SIA lose a valuable opportunity to gain evidence of crime. Often, there is insufficient PC for a search warrant after the fact. (This is relevant because a SIA must be contemporaneous with the arrest.)

Posted by: carpundit | Apr 4, 2005 11:56:19 AM

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