Forcing Defendant to Unlock iPhone Would Violate Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination

Posted 3 months ago — Ooley Law Blog

When the Defendant was arrested, law enforcement took her iPhone, believing it contained incriminating evidence, and a detective got a warrant to search the smartphone. When law enforcement couldn’t get into the locked device without Defendant’s assistance, the detective got a second warrant that ordered the Defendant to unlock her iPhone. She refused, arguing that doing so would violate her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The trial court held her in contempt, but a divided Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the Defendant, overturning a Hamilton County contempt order against her. Indiana Supreme Court Justices then granted transfer and eventually ruled 3-2 in favor of the Defendant. The Court reversed the contempt order and found that forcing her to unlock her iPhone would violate her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Katelin Eunjoo Seo v. State of Indiana