South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Police May Search Computer Files for Evidence of Forgery Crime
Description Court held that for the police to search a residence, including a computer in the residence, for evidence of the illegal sale of cable television boxes that allow cable services to be obtained without paying the cable provider. The warrant was based on a reliable search by a private investigator who presented the police sufficient evidence to obtain a search warrant.
Topic Criminal Law
Key Words Evidence; Probable Cause; Cable Television Forgery
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Cablevision reported to the police that illegal cable television access devices were being sold. An investigator for Cablevision bought one of the devices being advertised. Tests showed that it allowed the user to receive all premium and pay-per-view channels. Based on the investigator’s information, and observations by the police, Carratu was arrested for criminal possession of forgery devices. His property, including his computer, was searched. Numerous devices were found. Carratu moved to suppress evidence.
Decision

Motion denied in part, granted in part. The officers had probable cause to arrest Carratu for criminal possession of forgery devices in the form of cable boxes. The Cablevision investigator had conducted a quality investigation and gathered substantial evidence. The computer files pertaining to a cable box website and customers fell within the scope of the search warrant, but images of false identification papers kept by Carratu were not within the scope of the warrant.

Citation People v. Carratu, 755 NYS2d 595 (Sup. Ct., N.Y., 2003)

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