In a recent Arizona criminal case arising out of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, the defendant asked the higher court to reconsider the lower court’s denial of his motion to suppress. The defendant was charged after investigators found out he was involved in an attempted meet up with a teenage girl. The defendant filed a motion to suppress incriminating evidence that the investigators found in his phone, and the court denied his motion. A jury later found the defendant guilty as charged, and the defendant appealed the lower court’s denial.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, investigators in Arizona began looking into an online chat forum and found the defendant’s profile. Pretending to be a teenage girl, the investigators began chatting with the defendant. Through these messages, the defendant asked the girl to meet up with him so that the pair could have sex. He also informed the girl that he would bring drugs to the meet-up.
On the day and time of the meet-up, the investigators waited for the defendant at a nearby bus stop. Using the phone they had pretended was the teenage girl’s phone, they dialed the defendant’s phone number. He answered, and the investigators approached and arrested him. They later found drugs in the defendant’s backpack. They also seized the defendant’s phone and found evidence showing the defendant’s exchanges with the teenage girl, which were mostly sexual in nature.
The State charged the defendant with luring a minor for sexual exploitation and attempting to involve a minor in drug offenses. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence from the phone, and the court denied the motion. A jury found the defendant guilty as charged, and the defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the State made a mistake when it petitioned for a warrant to search his backpack and phone. Apparently, the investigators had described his phone inaccurately, listing the incorrect model and color on the warrant request. Because of this error, the court should not have given the State a warrant to search the defendant’s contents, and the subsequent search was therefore unreasonable.
The higher court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately disagreed with it. It was true, said the court, that the investigators described the phone incorrectly, but it was also true that the search warrant described the phone as the defendant’s phone (which was all that was necessary). His phone was the only phone seized in this case, and there was, therefore, no room for confusion over which phone the investigators wanted to search.
Given that the error had no real effect on the outcome of the case, the higher court denied the defendant’s appeal.
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