June 28th, 2019
Louisiana v. Folse
Opinion Date: June 26, 2019
Judge: Per Curiam
Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
Defendant Kelly Folse, a veterinarian, was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, and illegal use of a weapon, arising from the allegation she shot her neighbor’s dog in River Ridge. Defendant was arrested and her home was searched pursuant to arrest and search warrants. Her iPhone was seized at the time of her arrest. Access to the phone was locked by a passcode. Police obtained a search warrant to extract and examine the contents of the phone. At some point, she was informed that police had a search warrant for the phone but they would return it to her after she provided the passcode and they extracted a copy of its contents. However, the 10-day period provided in La.C.Cr.P. art. 163(C) had passed at that time. Under circumstances that were not well developed at the evidentiary hearing, defendant ultimately provided her passcode, her data was extracted, and her phone returned to her. Defendant moved to suppress the contents of the phone because the warrant had expired at the time the phone was searched. The district court found that the warrant could not be executed because the 10-day period provided in La.C.Cr.P. art. 163(C) had passed. However, because defendant, with the assistance of counsel, consented to the search by providing her passcode in exchange for the return of her phone, the district court denied defendant’s motion to suppress. The court of appeal held that defendant’s consent to search her phone was not free and voluntary because it was given only after an officer asserted that she had a warrant to search the phone. The Louisiana Supreme Court could not say after review of the trial court record, whether defendant merely acquiesced to a claim of lawful authority, or validly consented to provide her passcode in exchange for the phone. As such, the Court reversed the appellate court's order and remanded to the district court for further findings on whether evidence ought to be suppressed.
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