Pennsylvania v. Davis (majority)Annotate this Case
In 2014, agents of the Office of Attorney General (“OAG”), as part of their investigation of the electronic dissemination of child pornography, discovered that a computer at an identified Internet Protocol (IP) address registered with Comcast Cable Communications, repeatedly utilized a peer-to-peer file-sharing network, eMule, to share child pornography. The OAG applied for, received, and executed a search warrant at Appellant Joseph Davis’s apartment. After being Mirandized, Appellant informed agents that he lived alone, that he was the sole user of the computer, and that he used hardwired Internet services which were password protected, and, thus, not accessible by the public, such as through Wifi. The agents arrested Appellant for the eMule distributions and seized his computer. Appellant was asked for the password to this computer and Appellant refused to give it. Appellant was charged with two counts of disseminating child pornography, and two counts of criminal use of a communication facility. The Commonwealth filed with the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas a pre-trial motion to compel Appellant to divulge the password to his HP 700 computer. Appellant responded by invoking his right against self-incrimination. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that such compulsion was indeed violative of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution’s prohibition against self-incrimination.