TX14: No justification for warrantless seizure of cell phone for fear of deleting its contents

Officers lacked any justification to believe that defendant was deleting or was going to delete evidence from his cell phone to justify a warrantless seizure of the phone in a robbery case. Igboji v. State, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 7647 (Tex. App. – Houston (14th Dist.) Sept. 22, 2020) (2-1):

As in Turrubiate, these facts and the reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them do not suggest that Appellant was taking affirmative steps to delete the contents on his phone. At most, this evidence shows that (1) Appellant posted a Snapchat video taken after the robbery occurred, and (2) some of the restaurant employees were suspicious regarding Appellant’s involvement in the incident. Responding to Detective Ramirez’s request to obtain the Snapchat videos, Appellant explained that Snapchat “deletes itself” after 24 hours. Appellant’s Snapchat videos of the incident, which were taken four days before his meeting with Detective Ramirez, fell well outside this 24-hour period. Although these facts suggest that Snapchat, by its own functions, may have been deleting content that Appellant had posted, they do not indicate that Appellant himself was actively deleting evidence.

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