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New Jersey Appellate Court Denies Motion to Suppress Warrantless Disabling of Cell Phone Lock

Last Friday, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey issued a decision, State v. K.D.c, No. A-3080-17T1, 2020 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 372 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Feb. 21, 2020) affirming a decision to deny a motion to suppress evidence police seized during a cell phone search. The Court held putting a cell phone in airplane mode and disabling the lock on the phone was unlawful. However, citing the decision of the Supreme Court of United States in Riley v. California, 573 U.S. 373 (2014), the Court held that there was no Fourth Amendment violation because no data was taken from the phone. "The cell phone itself cannot be suppressed because police seized it during a lawful search incident to arrest and no data was taken during the unlawful entry." Id. at *21.

In its per curiam decision, the Court noted that the Riley decision recommended that police disconnect a cell phone from a network to avoid remote wiping. The Defendant did not challenge a post seizure search of the phone pursuant to a Communications Data Warrant which located evidence used in the government's case.

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