Commonwealth v. JonesAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the trial judge’s denial of the Commonwealth’s renewed motion filed pursuant to Commonwealth v. Gelfgatt, 468 Mass. 512 (2014), and remanded for entry of an order compelling Defendant to enter a password into a cell phone seized from Defendant at the time of his arrest, holding that the motion judge abused his discretion in denying the Commonwealth’s motion.
Defendant was charged with, among other things, trafficking a person for sexual servitude. The Commonwealth was granted a search warrant to search the cell phone found on Defendant, but the cell phone’s contents could only be accessed with the entry of a password. At issue was whether requiring Defendant to enter the cell phone’s password would violate his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. A trial judge concluded that the Commonwealth failed to prove that Defendant’s knowledge of the password was a “foregone conclusion” under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights and denied the Commonwealth’s motion and renewed motion to compel Defendant to produce the password. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that Defendant’s knowledge of the password was a foregone conclusion and not subject to the protections of the Fifth Amendment and article 12.