Va. judge: Cellphone pass codes protected

STATE-NEWSVIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) _ A judge has ruled that a criminal defendant cannot be forced give authorities the pass code to his cellphone. The Virginian Pilot reports that Virginia Beach Circuit Judge Steven Frucci issued the ruling this week in the case of David Baust, who is charged with trying to strangle his girlfriend. Prosecutors wanted to search Baust’s cellphone for a possible video of the couple’s altercation. Defense attorney James Broccoletti argued that pass codes are protected by the Fifth Amendment, which shields a defendant from self-incrimination. Frucci ruled that authorities can gain access if a phone can be opened with a fingerprint, which is akin to a DNA sample, a writing sample or an actual key. But he said a pass code requires the defendant to divulge knowledge, which is protected.

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