Article I, section 7, of the Washington State Constitution protects individuals from warrantless searches into their private affairs. Courts must consider what type of information may be discovered through the government’s action and how the interest being asserted has been treated in the past. A defendant in a Washington criminal case recently challenged his conviction on the grounds the state had violated his right to be free from intrusion into his private affairs.
The defendant was arrested for violating a domestic violence no contact order prohibiting him from contacting his wife. The order had been modified to allow the parties to communicate by phone, text, and email, but the detective told him the court would probably issue a new no contact order that would not allow phone contact. The trial court did so the next day.
There is a sign by the jail phone informing inmates calls “are recorded and subject to monitoring.” There is also an automated message that warns the caller and recipient that the “call is subject to recording and monitoring.” The detective searched for the defendant’s calls and found he had called his wife from the jail phone on four different days. The state charged him with four counts of felony domestic violence court order violation.