Commonwealth v. Green

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a warrant to search for evidence of possession and distribution of child pornography on the electronic devices in Appellant’s home was not overbroad. A magisterial district judge granted a warrant to search Appellant’s home. During the search, authorities previewed a phone and saw that it contained images of child pornography. The Commonwealth charged Appellant with approximately 100 counts of both possession of child pornography and criminal use of a communication facility. Appellant filed a suppression motion and argued that the warrant was overbroad. The trial court denied the motion and convicted him. The Superior and Supreme Courts affirmed. In the Supreme Court, Appellant advanced two arguments as to why the search warrant was overbroad. He first averred that the search warrant “was overbroad due to the disparity between the immense number of items requested to be seized and later searched, and the underlying probable cause offered to support the warrant.” He also argued that the search warrant “was overbroad in that the language used to particularize the search did nothing to curtail law enforcement from searching each and every file on the seized devices.” First, the Court held that there was probable cause to search and seize all digital devices in Appellant’s home, and so the warrant was not overbroad by failing to specify only Appellant’s personal phone and computer. The Court then applied the standard outlined in Commonwealth v. Grossman as well as Commonwealth v. Johnson to hold that the warrant was not overbroad with respect to the digital search of the phone.

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