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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Florida - Man Jailed For 180 Days For Refusing To Give Police His iPhone Password

Rachel Blevins
A dangerous precedent has been set involving an iPhone in which people can be imprisoned for doing nothing more than practicing their 5th amendment right. Welcome to the post-constitutional age in America.
Should Americans face jail time for refusing to surrender their passwords to police, or is the request alone a violation of their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination? According to one judge in Florida, the former is the correct answer.
Christopher Wheeler, 41, was sentenced to 180 days in jail by Broward Circuit Court Judge Michael Rothschild for failing to reveal the correct passcode to his iPhone.
Wheeler was initially arrested on charges of child abuse in March, after he was accused of hitting and scratching his young daughter. The catch is that police are claiming the evidence of this abuse—multiple photos of repeated injuries to the child—can only be found on Wheeler’s locked iPhone.

After he was held in criminal contempt of court by Judge Rothschild in early May, Wheeler did provide a passcode to the iPhone, it just wasn’t the right one.
“I swear, under oath, I’ve given them the password,” Wheeler insisted when he appeared in court on Tuesday.

Wheeler’s case was determined on the basis of an appeals court decision, which separated the phone’s passcode from incriminating photos or videos located on the device.
In December 2016, the Florida Court of Appeal’s Second District ruled that a passcode is not related to any criminal evidence found on the phone:
 “Providing the passcode does not ‘betray any knowledge [Stahl] may have about the circumstances of the offenses’ for which he is charged. Thus, ‘compelling a suspect to make a nonfactual statement that facilitates the production of evidence’ for which the state has otherwise obtained a warrant based upon evidence independent of the accused’s statements linking the accused to the crime does not offend the privilege.”
As Wheeler was sentenced to 180 days in jail for failing to provide the passcode to his iPhone, another Florida man was facing similar demands. Wesley Victor appeared in court on Tuesday as a suspect in an extortion case that surrounded a sex-tape scandal involving Miami social-media celebrity YesJulz.
In contrast, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Charles Johnson chose not to hold Victor in contempt of court, ruling that he should not be expected to remember his phone’s passcode more than 10 months after his initial arrest.
Critics of the appeals court decision argue that such a requirement violates the individual’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: