Massachusetts High Court finds Defendant does not have 5th Amendment to prevent the Defendant from being forced to unlock his phone

In this sex trafficking prosecution, the prosecution received a search warrant to go through the contents of the defendant’s phone, but they cannot open the phone because the contents are encrypted.

Prosecutors then sought to compel the Defendant to provide his password, which the trial court denied. The Massachusetts Superior Court concluded that if the prosecutors can show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knows the password, the defendant can be compelled to give the password under the forgone conclusion doctrine. The Court found that the prosecution met this burden and reversed the trial court, remanding the matter back to the trial court.

The case is Commonwealth v. Jones, 481 Mass. 540, 117 N.E.3d 702, 2019 Mass. LEXIS 106, 2019 WL 1052214, Mass. (March 6, 2019).

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