ME: SW for all computers in house in a CP case wasn’t overbroad; digital images are easily moved and secreted

In a search warrant for child pornography, a request for all computers and electronic media on the premises wasn’t unreasonable, considering the ease with which digital images can be moved from one device to another and hidden. State v. Roy, 2019 ME 16, 2019 Me. LEXIS 18 (Jan. 29, 2019):

[*P23] Here, Roy argues that the warrant is unconstitutionally broader than those in Lehman and Upham because it authorized the seizure of any “[c]omputers, portable electronic devices and digital storage media of any kind” located on the property associated with the IP address, on any person on the property, and in any vehicle on the property. We disagree.

[*P24] The digital world is not a static place; advancements in computer technology continue to make obtaining and accessing illicit digital files increasingly easy while making detection more difficult. See, e.g., United States v. Johnson, 221 F.3d 83, 99 (2d Cir. 2000); United States v. Knowles, 207 F. Supp. 3d 585, 591-92, 604 (D.S.C. 2016); United States v. Cunningham, 680 F. Supp. 2d 844, 856 (N.D. Ohio 2010). Thus, when considering the nature and circumstances of Roy’s alleged illegal activity, and the increased sophistication and mobility of devices capable of downloading, storing, and transmitting child pornography in the years since Lehman and Upham were decided, the warrant’s description of electronic devices that the officers were authorized to search and seize is not overly broad because of its authorization to search Roy’s residence, property, and any persons and vehicles on his property at the time of the search, see Lehman, 1999 ME 124, ¶¶ 10-11, 736 A.2d 256 (acknowledging the inherent mobility of computer equipment), or because of its authorization to seize various electronic devices and digital media, see Upham, 168 F.3d at 533, 535 (concluding that the transmission of images depicting child pornography through the Internet from an account linked to the defendant established probable cause demonstrating a “sufficient chance of finding some needles in the computer haystack”).

[*P25] The warrant’s authorization was as specific and limited as the circumstances would allow and satisfied the constitutional requirement for particularity.

This entry was posted in Computer searches, Overbreadth, Particularity. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.