COURT WATCH: Police Hold Accused’s Phone Far Longer Than Necessary – Judge Orders Phone Returned ‘Right Now’ 

BURLINGTON, VT – Judge Navah Spero expressed surprise here in Chittenden County Superior Court this week that the accused’s phone had not been returned to her after being seized by police officers days prior.

The defense mounted a challenge against these charges that partially involved police withholding of the accused’s phone for longer than necessary, leaving her unable to contact her attorney, friends or family.

The accused is charged with two counts of disturbing the peace.

According to Judge Spero, these counts stem from the accused calling police officers on multiple different occasions, prompting dispatchers to respond. In all of these instances, dispatchers found the accused was not in any danger, nor was there any emergency.

The prosecutor emphasized the accused’s alleged intent to annoy, citing the “unquestionable annoyance” documented in the police affidavit and noting dispatchers threatened to quit due to the interactions, which they argued constituted annoyance on an individual level.

Under Vermont state law, “A person who, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, or annoy, makes contact by means of a telephonic or other electronic communication with another and makes any request, suggestion, or proposal that is obscene, lewd, lascivious, or indecent; threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to the person or property of any person.”

However, the defense challenged the state’s charges, arguing, “the police are not included in the every person clause” of the relevant statute.

During these proceedings, it was revealed the police seized the accused’s phone, depriving her of means of communication. The defense argued the phone was taken without a warrant, which was confirmed by the prosecution.

The defense requested an immediate search warrant be issued so that the phone might be returned, citing the accused’s inability to contact or be contacted.

Judge Spero agreed with the defense, stating that obtaining call logs, rather than conducting a full search of the phone, should suffice. Spero emphasized this must happen “quickly, as right now.  (the accused) doesn’t have a phone.”

Despite this, the accused was not guaranteed the return of her phone until at least the next court date, which is scheduled for April 10 at 1 p.m.

Justice Spero reminded the accused that in the future, she should only contact police “for emergencies.”

Author

  • Charles Simmons

    Charlie Simmons is a third year at the University of Vermont studying English and Political Science. His academic interests include contemporary politics and creative writing. While he is not yet sure what his career aspirations are, he is interested in studying law, journalism, or creative writing at a postgraduate level. In his free time he enjoys skating, surfing, and doing ceramics.

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