SAN FRANCISCO — The computer aboard a San Jose man’s SUV can’t be used against him, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled today. Noting that the case is one of first impression in California, the panel concluded that the police download of data a year after a fatal hit-and-run accident violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights.

“The prosecution failed to show in this case that the download of data was justified by the circumstances warranting seizure of the vehicle and examination of its condition,” Justice Franklin Elia wrote. “Further, the download of raw data from a [sensing and diagnostic module] does not qualify as a scientific test, similar to DNA or ballistics testing since downloading is merely the copying or retrieval of electronic data or information.”

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