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FREE CASE REVIEW


iPhone Left in Convenience Store Bathroom Not “Abandoned”
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Interesting Colorado Supreme Court case handed down on the 31st of March – People v. Schutter, an interlocutory appeal brought by the prosecution on a Pitkin County felony drug matter.

 

The people appealed, challenging the suppression of evidence of drug sales discovered following a warrantless search of a defendant’s iPhone.  A convenience store clerk had given the iPhone to an officer roughly an hour after the defendant had inadvertently locked it in the store’s restroom along with the bathroom key.  Apparently, the clerk had refused defendant’s request to retrieve the phone because he was too busy at the time, and that defendant left the convenience store when he was told he’d have to come back later to get his phone.

 

The district court found that the defendant had no intent to abandon his iPhone.  Even if he had “lost” the iPhone, the police had exceeded the permissible scope of a search for identifying information by reading several of defendant’s text messages.  The Supreme Court agreed, holding that under the circumstances of this case, defendant’s iPhone could not be considered abandoned or lost such that the police could justifiably have searched it for identifying information.