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Name: People v. Rangel
Case #: A132664
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 06/14/2012

Where defendant’s smartphone contains information that is the “functional equivalent” of items listed in a warrant, a search of defendant’s text messages is included within the scope of the warrant. After his motion to suppress evidence was denied, appellant pled guilty to participation in a criminal street gang and other offenses. He appealed the search of text messages contained in his cell phone that yielded inculpatory evidence. Affirmed. Officers did not exceed the scope of the warrant, which authorized a search for telephone lists and gang indicia, when they searched appellant’s contacts in his cell phone. The data contained in the cell phone was the functional equivalent of the items particularly described in the warrant. A smartphone has the capacity to store data such as names, telephone numbers, artwork and other information, all of which may amount to gang indicia. As such, the phone was a likely container for items that were the functional equivalent of those specified in the warrant. The warrant extended to the text messages because the phone was validly seized and there was probable cause to believe that evidence of the gang-related crime would be found in the messages. The court did not decide whether the results would be different if the text messages pertained to criminal conduct that was not gang-related or connected to the crime being investigated.