United States v. Camou

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 12-11-2014
  • Case #: 12-50598
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Pregerson for the Court; Circuit Judge Fisher and District Judge Gwin
  • Full Text Opinion

A search of a cell phone’s contents is not incident to arrest if it is not roughly contemporaneous to the arrest.

Border Patrol agents stopped Chad Daniel Camou’s vehicle in Westmorland, California. Camou, his girlfriend, and an undocumented immigrant occupied the vehicle. All parties were detained. After the arrest, transport to security offices, and initial interviewing, Agent Walla searched the contents of Camou’s cell phone, which had been in the vehicle at the time of the stop and had been transported with Camou. The cell phone contained several images of child pornography. Camou was then indicted for possession of child pornography. No charges were sought related to immigrant smuggling. Camou moved to suppress the cell phone images, arguing they were discovered via an unconstitutional, warrantless search. The district court denied the motion, and Camou entered a conditional guilty plea. Camou then appealed the denial of the motion to suppress. The Ninth Circuit held that the search of a cell phone’s contents is not incident to arrest if it is not roughly contemporaneous to the arrest. Too much time had passed, and too many intervening acts had occurred, that showed the arrest was finished before Agent Walla’s search. REVERSED.

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