Texas Court Denies Defendant’s Appeal in Child Pornography Case, Despite Argument Regarding Constitutional Right to Privacy

In a recent case coming out of a Texas court, the defendant appealed his conviction for possession of child pornography. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court made a mistake when it denied his motion to suppress incriminating evidence found on his cell phone. According to the defendant, the police officers’ search of his phone was an unconstitutional invasion of his privacy, and the evidence should not have been allowed to come into his trial. The court reviewed the facts of the case and ultimately disagreed with the defendant, denying his appeal in the process.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, a police officer that had previously interacted with the defendant in this case secured a search warrant for the defendant’s cell phone in July 2016. The officer had been undercover in a chat room when the defendant sent a message saying that he had cocaine to sell and that he was looking for a buyer. The defendant also wrote that if any of his buyers tried to call the police on him, he would shoot them in retaliation.

The officer carried out a drug-buy bust of the defendant, securing the defendant’s phone in the process. The officer then requested a warrant through the court system, explaining that he thought the phone could provide evidence of additional criminal activity. The officer’s warrant was granted, and upon a search of the phone, the officer found child pornography. The officer then requested a second warrant to specifically investigate evidence of the pornography on the phone. Once that second search warrant was executed, police confirmed their suspicions and the defendant was charged accordingly.

At trial, the defendant was found guilty of three counts of child pornography.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court should not have denied his motion when he asked them to suppress the evidence found on his phone. According to the defendant, the initial search warrant was too broad, and the officer had too much discretion to search the private contents of his cell phone. It was against his constitutional right to privacy, said the defendant, that the officer was able to see everything inside of the phone and use the incriminating evidence against him in court.

The court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately disagreed with him. The warrant was not overbroad, given the fact that it pointed specifically to the defendant’s previous threats and messages regarding cocaine as evidence of criminal activity. Because the warrant mentioned these facts, the judge rightfully granted it, and the officer was within his rights to search the defendant’s cell phone. Thus, said the court, the trial court’s decision was within its bounds and the defendant’s appeal should be denied.

Have You Been Charged with a Sex Crime in Texas?

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Texas, we at Guest and Gray are here to help. We are proud to relentlessly fight for your freedom, so that you can focus on what matters most to you. We handle all types of cases, including those involving child pornography and other Texas sex crimes. For a free and confidential consultation, call us at 972-564-4644.

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