US v. Curtis Davis, No. WALKER (4th Cir. 2024)Annotate this Case
In a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the defendant, Curtis Davis, had been arrested and charged with drug and firearm offenses after law enforcement officers executing a search warrant observed him attempting to place baggies of controlled substances into an air vent. More baggies of controlled substances, firearms, cash, cell phones, and additional controlled substances were found in the residence. The district court denied Davis's motion to suppress the evidence, arguing that the search warrant was not supported by probable cause.
On appeal, the Fourth Circuit upheld the district court's decision. The court found that the search warrant was valid at least as to evidence of firearms offenses. The controlled substances found on Davis's person and in his bedroom were lawfully seized either incident to Davis's arrest or because they were in plain view of the officers conducting the search. Furthermore, Davis's cell phone was lawfully seized as an instrumentality of drug trafficking found in plain view. The court emphasized that for a cell phone to be seized in plain view, the "additional evidence or indicators" of criminality have significant work to do to establish probable cause. In this case, Davis's phone was found in the residence along with substantial quantities of controlled substances that were packaged for distribution, cash, firearms, and ammunition, all found on Davis's person or in his bedroom. This evidence provided law enforcement with sufficient probable cause to seize Davis's cell phone. The judgment of the district court was affirmed.