United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Search and Seizure – Search Warrants – probable cause
A search warrant affidavit detailing a largely online relationship between the defendant and a minor victim established probable cause to seize digital and non-digital storage devices found at the defendant’s residences.
“Reichling ignores the quoted text messages in the affidavit indicating that he was physically following the victim. The text messages mention the victim’s appearance, her lack of a tan while she was at a swimming pool, and her boyfriend. It does not require a great leap of the imagination to think that a person physically stalking a minor from at least July 2012 (when ‘Nathan Solman’ appeared in the victim’s backyard) to June 2013 would record images of the victim using either a digital or non-digital recording device. Regardless of whether such images would qualify as ‘contraband’ (such as child pornography), they would constitute ‘evidence of a crime,’ and would supply a basis for probable cause. See Gates, 462 U.S. at 238. Similarly, it would be reasonable for the police and the issuing judge to view the facts in the affidavit—including those indicating Reichling committed a sex offense with a minor victim in 1993 and had been a collector of child pornography since at least 2010—as providing “ominous hint[s]” of what might be found on both digital and non-digital media in Reichling’s residence. See Newsom, 402 F.3d at 783. After all, experienced investigator/affiants and reviewing magistrates are entitled to draw reasonable inferences. Bearing in mind the ‘great deference’ we must give the issuing judge’s determination, we find the affidavit supplied a ‘substantial basis’ for the judge’s probable cause finding as to non-digital storage media as well as digital. See Gates, 462 U.S. at 236.”
14-2941 U.S. v. Reichling
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. Crabb, J., Tinder, J.