After more than a year of uncertainty, the case of the stolen iPhone 4 has been brought to something like a conclusion. San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney Morley Pitt announced that charges would not be filed against Gizmodo’s Jason Chen, whose liberty has been in question since the police raided his house shortly after the alleged theft.
Pitt said that “it is a very gray area,” but that regarding journalist protection laws, “this was not the case with which we were going to push the envelope.” Not the most precise statement of exoneration, but very sensible.
On the other hand, Brian Hogan and Sage Wallower, who found the next-generation phone incognito at a bar, will be charged: misappropriation of lost property (i.e. selling something you found), and possession of stolen property (it becomes stolen once you decide to sell it) respectively. They face a maximum of a year in jail plus fines and probation; I don’t want to speculate too much on their fates, but hopefully the association with a freshly-deemed-legal journalistic endeavor will cause the judge to look more favorably on them.
Now seems as good a time as any to link to my If I Did It post, in which you can learn a few missteps to avoid if you should come across a top-secret piece of hardware. And don’t forget that our tip line is anonymous. Exercise discretion, friends.
Update: here’s the official statement from the DA’s office.