Written on: 14/10/2012
The Court held that seizure of Diaz's cell phone was lawful due to the fact that the seizure occurred during a search incident to arrest – an exception of the Fourth Amendment.The Court reasoned that historical precedent had been established from several cases brought to the U.S. Supreme Court; which that have allowed officers to seize objects under an arrestee's control and perform searches of those objects without warrant for the purpose of preserving evidence.
In doing so, The Court applied the case United States v. Robinson, which held that the unwarranted search and seizure of a cigarette carton on Robinson's body was valid. The Court, with Robinson in mind, contended that only arrest is required for a valid search of an arrestee's person and belongings. The court then proceeded to apply United States v. Edwards to hold that the search was valid despite the fact that it had occurred 90 minutes after arrest. In the Edwards case, an arrestee's clothing was seized 10 hours after arrest in order to preserve evidence (paint chips) that might be present on the clothes.
The Court then considered the case United States v. Chadwick, which held that any object associated with an arrestee may be searched incident to arrest – a precedent that supported the claim that the search of Diaz's cell phone was valid incident to his arrest. Under the Chadwick ruling, Diaz's cell phone was not only on his person but also directly associated with him at the time, and thus a delayed search of the phone 90 minutes after the seizure was valid.
Given these three cases, the Court concluded that the search and seizure of Diaz's cell phone was valid.