MO: Warrantless seizure of black box data from semi violated 4A; automobile exception didn’t apply

After an accident, the information off the data recorder on defendant’s semi was seized and then searched by the police without a search warrant. The trial court suppressed, and the state filed an interlocutory appeal. Only three of its six arguments were presented to the trial court, so only those are considered. First, defendant has standing. He was responsible for the truck, and the officers committed trespass to seize the information off the data recorder by plugging into the computer under the dash by computer download. Second, the state’s reliance on the automobile exception fails because there was no probable cause shown whatsoever that a crime occurred to justify the information seizure. Even if mere evidence may be seized, there still has to be a potential crime. Third, as to exigent circumstances that the truck could be moved, the state presented no evidence on that. Besides, the officers did a second download of braking data the next day, and that belies exigency. State v. West, 2018 Mo. App. LEXIS 378 (Apr. 17, 2018).

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