Discovery in criminal defense cases can involve evidence in a witness’s cell phone. One of the most important and lengthy parts of a legal case is the discovery phase. sex crimes trials In some cases, critical information or pieces of evidence might lie in someone’s cell phone. With the advancement of technology more and more cases rely on evidence that is discovered on a phone or laptop. As a defense attorney builds their case for their client, they can file motions to gain access to the content of an individual’s phone. However, the courts must consider the constitutional right to privacy of the individual with the phone, and the constitutional right that the accused has to properly defend themselves. This is a very delicate balance and this issue has come up in the past. For instance, the case of Commonwealth v. Lloyd, discussed this issue and made a decision that would help future courts on how to properly weigh the conflicting rights.
In the criminal defense case of the commonwealth vs Lloyd regarding evidence in a cell phone, the trial court did not allow the defense team to examine the defendant’s psychiatric records. rule 600 The defense filed a motion arguing that the trial court made a mistake by not allowing the defense to examine the medical records. By not having the records the defense argued that the defendant could not properly defend himself as the constitution guarantees. The appellate court agreed with the defense. Applying that to a more modern example let’s say the defense needs evidence that is on someone’s cell phone, in order to properly defend himself. If the trial courts deny that request, the appellate court, based on their pervious decision in Commonwealth v. Lloyd, should side with the defense and allow them to obtain the information that is on the requested cell phone. While it is a delicate balance between the right of privacy and the right the defendant has to properly defend himself, past Pennsylvania appellate court decisions can help if this issue arises in future cases.