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.'"