People vs Rangel Case Brief Essay

Issue:When a search warrant is issued on the grounds of proving someone to be a part of gang activity, is it logical to be able to search their personal items such as a phone? Facts: San Mateo police believed that supposed gang member Eric Rangel was responsible for the felony assault that took place in a local park and also that it was a gang-related crime. As a result police obtained a search warrant of Rangel’s home on the grounds of proving “gang indicia”.

This particular warrant although not very specific on what they would search for included graffiti, notebooks, photographs, sketches, poetry, and red clothing which all could possibly link him to a local gang. Also the warrant said that gang indicia could be found in such items as newspapers, artwork, compact disks, audio and video cassette, cameras, undeveloped film, address books, and telephone lists.

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During their search of Rangel’s home police came across a smartphone in his bedroom which the court described as “a cellular phone that has the ability to store data, photographs, and videos” all of which is crucial. When the police arrived back at the station an investigator searched the phone and found text messages on his phone that put him to the scene of the crime, Rangel’s motion to suppress the text messages was later denied as he then pled no contest.

Discussion: During his appeal Rangel argued that the police’s search of his phone was unlawful because as stated in the warrant there was no particular mentioning of such devices. He also stated that that even if the warrant did authorize the taking of his phone police would need a second warrant just to be able to search the phone. The court disagreed with both of his arguments. As stated in Warden v. Hayden (1967) officers that are executing a search warrant may search for the items in any place or thing where the evidence could be found on the premises of where the warrant was issued.

The precedent of this particular case persuaded the court to rule that the search was lawful on the grounds that gang indicia could be found on a smartphone because of its capabilities to store what was stated in the warrant. Also the court gave their reasoning for denying Rangel’s argument for a second warrant by stating that because the original warrant was authorized and that a second warrant was not necessary because police did not exceed probable cause of their stated searches.

Application to police work: This in my opinion relates to the real world because people always feel that police tamper or wrongly proceed with their findings concerning a criminal case. There are instances where police may go further than necessary but this case showed the justification of the San Mateo police in their search warrant regarding a possible gang related crime and showed that not all police do their job the “wrong or dirty” way.


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