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Supreme Court Ruling Relaxes Warrant Requirements For Home Searches

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the arrest-everyone-until-someone-consents dept.

Privacy 500

cold fjord writes with news that the Supreme Court has expanded the ability of police officers to search a home without needing a warrant, quoting the LA Times: "Police officers may enter and search a home without a warrant as long as one occupant consents, even if another resident has previously objected, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday ... The 6-3 ruling ... gives authorities more leeway to search homes without obtaining a warrant, even when there is no emergency. The majority ... said police need not take the time to get a magistrate's approval before entering a home in such cases. But dissenters ... warned that the decision would erode protections against warrantless home searches." In this case, one person objected to the search and was arrested followed by the police returning and receiving the consent of the remaining occupant.

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500 comments

Sure (5, Insightful)

realilskater (76030) | about 2 months ago | (#46348333)

If you consent to a search what is the point of requiring a warrant anyway?

Anybody in their right mind would just tell the pigs to fuck off and get a warrant but I digress.

Re:Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348439)

But... if you've done nothing wrong you should have nothing to hide, right?

Re:Sure (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348519)

Especially if you dont have anything to hide. Imagine, if they find "something"...

Frog is boiling.... (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 months ago | (#46348541)

...just keep chipping away at the rights, little by little.

We're getting close to the point of not needing a warrant or consent at all.

Anyone want to lay bets on when that will finally happen? I'm sadly not optimistic that it may not happen in my lifetime.

:(

Re:Frog is boiling.... (1)

Colin Castro (2881349) | about 2 months ago | (#46348671)

I'm sadly not optimistic that it may not happen in my lifetime.

So many negatives I'm not sure what you're trying to say.

Re:Frog is boiling.... (2, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 months ago | (#46348683)

This is about when someone consents to a search.... youve never needed a warrant for that.

Save your outrage for when it matters.

Re:Frog is boiling.... (5, Insightful)

Delwin (599872) | about 2 months ago | (#46348863)

No, this is about when someone didn't consent and was then arrested. The police came back and asked the remaining person who of course then consented (rather than be arrested). That should qualify as consent under duress if he had a good lawyer.

Re:Frog is boiling.... (5, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 months ago | (#46348875)

It does matter, because it used to be that if police asked, and got denied, they had to go get a warrant. Now, they can play the mommy/daddy game.

Ask one person, if they say no, go and ask the other. No need to be truthfull or anything. Police are allowed to lie, so all they have to do is go manufacture the consent of someone else, who may even just be a disgruntled roomate.

I certainly hope such "permission" would not extend to individual areas, like personal bedrooms. As a landord who rented rooms to people. Common areas are one thing, but, personal space is personal space and something people often pay for.

Frankly, at this point, I don't think police can be trusted to ever have a search without a warrant. We should require more warrants from them not less. This is the wrong direction.

Re:Frog is boiling.... (3, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 months ago | (#46349003)

""You don't have any right to come in here. I know my rights," Fernandez shouted from inside the apartment, according to court records.
Fernandez was arrested in connection with the street robbery and taken away. An hour later, police returned and searched his apartment, this time with Rojas' consent."

Occupant A doesn't give consent and then gets arrested. So of course Occupant B gives consent... he just watched them arrest the other guy.

Personally, I'm more concerned with how they define "occupant". Is it anybody that happens to be in the house at that time? Do children count?

Re:Sure (1)

ebunga (95613) | about 2 months ago | (#46348967)

Bill Methmaker says, "FUCK YOU COPS. COME BACK WITH A WARRANT."

Wanda Punchingbag-Methmaker says, "HELL NO. IGNORE HIM. SEARCH IT FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. HE'S MAKING METH, CHEATING ON ME, AND HE PUNCHED ME."

Guess what, that's consent to search. However, I would really hope that the police would at the very least have the person sign an affidavit consenting to the search. Paperwork is important in a nation of laws.

Re:Sure (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348533)

the point is they don't need your consent. they just need your roommates/significant others.. even if you say no..

Re:Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348795)

Don't live with people who don't share your views on warrantless searches.

Re:Sure (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348539)

But "Police officers may enter and search a home without a warrant as long as one occupant consents"...
Can a minor consent? Can someone other than the owner consent? Can a visit consent?

Re:Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348857)

The article says "co-owner" so I think unless your name is on the title you can't consent. But the cops won't verify that until after the fact, but any evidence they get would be inadmissible.. I think.

Re:Sure (4, Insightful)

xevioso (598654) | about 2 months ago | (#46348549)

So the woman, who appeared as though she had been recently beaten, opened the door and allowed the cops in, she was not in her right mind? The "right mind" action for her was to tell the cops to get lost, thus allowing the gang material and guns of her gangster boyfriend to remain in the house?

Maybe sometimes the right thing to do is to actually talk to the cops. She allowed them in, they searched the place, found evidence to put the guy in prison for 14 years, and now a gangster is off the street and she doesn't have to worry about being abused by him anymore. What's wrong with that outcome?

Nothing.

Re:Sure (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 months ago | (#46348735)

What's wrong with that outcome?

Nothing.

Nothing ... apart from the legal precedent it created as a side effect.

(Which will be abused, you can bet on that)

Re:Sure (1)

xevioso (598654) | about 2 months ago | (#46348923)

All precedents are abused. So what. When they are abused, litigate them. As soon as some idiot cops somewhere says that Fidos "woof" is a nod of approval to enter, that suspect will take it to court, and it will be litigated.

Re:Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348675)

I digress...

If anyone in the residence, say someone you just met and have known for all of 2 minutes, says yes if the cops ask to search while you vehemently deny them entry, they can still search. You don't see a problem with this?

The point is, persons that have no habitation rights of the residence they are in, can waive your to the 4th amendment right, if they're in your residence. You don't see a problem with this? Telling a copy to 'piss off' and get a warrant, becomes irrelevant.

Re:Sure (1)

dcollins117 (1267462) | about 2 months ago | (#46348953)

If anyone in the residence, say someone you just met and have known for all of 2 minutes, says yes if the cops ask to search while you vehemently deny them entry, they can still search. You don't see a problem with this?

The ruling clearly states the police may enter home as long as one occupant consents. Occupant means you live there as a legal resident. It does not include strangers and "persons that have no habitation rights of the residence they are in".

Re:Sure (3, Insightful)

ThatAblaze (1723456) | about 2 months ago | (#46348965)

It seems to me that this could be interpreted to allow the following scenario: A police informant runs out of gas in front of your house. You let him in to use your phone so he can get a ride. The police then mysteriously show up wanting in. You tell them no but from behind you the informant yells "come right in."

Is that legal? Who knows.. now someone has to take it to court.

What's with this supreme court no-a-days? They seem to think that it's their job just to rewrite the law whenever they choose. What upsets me is that this isn't some new issue in which technology has changed the nature of society. This is an old issue with an established procedure. This scenario would have been just as relevant in the 1950s, but the court at the time would have never ruled this way.

Complete Bullshit (-1, Troll)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 months ago | (#46348351)

If I live somewhere it is my home. If I object that needs to be the end game. This ruling allows someone else to approve the search of my home. Clearly if any interested party who is a resident objects to the search then the search is not legitimate. Nobody else can give someone permission to search my domicile. Period. It is more and more the case that the "justice" system is really just a bunch of criminals. As far as I'm concerned the judge in this case should be put to death for treason.

Re:Complete Bullshit (2)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 2 months ago | (#46348441)

You should probably read the definition of treason before making a fool of yourself in public.

Too late now, of course, but maybe next time.

Re:Complete Bullshit (0)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 months ago | (#46348505)

"the crime of betraying one's country, esp. by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government."

What are you, some kind of moron? Read the friggin' blockquote. That is what it means, that is how I used it, and I stand by it. Anyone who intentionally erodes the freedoms that the many, many, many, brave soldiers of the past gave their life to protect, are treasoners. Period.

Re:Complete Bullshit (2)

xevioso (598654) | about 2 months ago | (#46348723)

Yes, so that makes you a traitor, by your own definition. You are promoting the eroding and denial of the freedom of that woman, who had just been beaten by this guy, to allow the cops to search the house in which SHE ALSO WAS A RESIDENT.

"Denying someone in Rojas' position the right to allow the police to enter her home would also show disrespect for her independence," Alito wrote for the court.

Promoting otherwise, by your own definition, makes you a traitor.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

azadrozny (576352) | about 2 months ago | (#46348909)

That line carried a lot of weight with me too. She was a resident of the home, and had the right to admit or deny entry to the police, even over the other resident's objection. I guess the moral of the story is make sure the people you live with are equally complicit in your crimes.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 2 months ago | (#46348777)

Allowing the searching a house with the consent of one of the occupants" is not "betraying one's country." It's an interpretation of what constitutes unreasonable search and seizure.

The fact that you don't agree with that interpretation does not make it treason.

The fact that you think it does is what is making you look like a fool.

Re:Complete Bullshit (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 months ago | (#46348883)

Every law that is ever passed "erodes freedoms".

The Supreme Court by definition (according to Marbury v Madison and the principle of Judicial Review) cannot violate the constitution with one of their rulings, either-- however they decide is considered to be the correct interpretation of the Constitution.

Not only that, I believe there is a principle [wikipedia.org] that makes judges immune to prosecution for a ruling that they give.

He was correct to criticize your use of treason.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348523)

treason
trzn/
noun
1. the crime of betraying one's country, esp. by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.

I'm pretty sure that betraying the constitution is betraying the country.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 months ago | (#46348935)

The Supreme Courts rulings are considered to be the correct interpretation of the Constitution. Have a problem with it, take it up with the 1802 Supreme Court.

Re:Complete Bullshit (0)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 2 months ago | (#46348527)

On the internet, "treason" means "doing something I don't agree with in the political realm".

The first two words of the headline are "Supreme Court", yet the parent poster refers to "the judge in this case". So either they slept through 9th grade Social Studies or haven't gotten to 9th grade yet.

Re:Complete Bullshit (0)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 months ago | (#46348617)

Or you are a dick-headed asshole. "the judge in this case" vs. "the judges in this case" OH! OH! He missed an S!!!! He must be stupid!

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 months ago | (#46348503)

Sure you can deny it. Just make sure you live alone and the sole owner of your residence. That won't stop the cops from sniffing around though and looking for a reason to enter.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

DaHat (247651) | about 2 months ago | (#46348555)

Being the sole owner isn't enough. Anyone who lives there can give consent.

Have a baby sitter or housekeeper who you allow into your home while you are not there?

Guess what? They now have the ability to allow the police in to do a search without your explicit consent.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 months ago | (#46348687)

Being the sole owner isn't enough. Anyone who lives there can give consent.

Have a baby sitter or housekeeper who you allow into your home while you are not there?

Guess what? They now have the ability to allow the police in to do a search without your explicit consent.

Sounds rather like vampires.

Re:Complete Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348829)

Nope, vampires can only get consent from the home owner.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 2 months ago | (#46348833)

Not exactly. If one has told one's housekeeper and/or baby sitter they are not to allow anyone in the house, they do not have authority to authorize a search. They also don't have the authority to allow a search if they are not present and no one is at the home or if they are present and an actual resident is at the home. Even if one has not given explicit instructions to domestic help, it is a gray area as to whether one's help can give consent to a search.

Re:Complete Bullshit (4, Informative)

Nukenbar (215420) | about 2 months ago | (#46348559)

Nobody else can give someone permission to search my domicile. Period.

Not if you are married. It is no longer just YOUR home and YOUR stuff. Now it is, as we would say in the South, Y'ALL home and Y'ALL stuff. Your wife would have just as much of a right to consent to the search.

No the new law seems to apply to a GF or any resident in the home, which I'm thinking goes too far.

By the same token (1)

Nickodeimus (1263214) | about 2 months ago | (#46348765)

Using your logic, the person allowing the search is also incriminating themselves.

Re:By the same token (1)

xevioso (598654) | about 2 months ago | (#46348961)

Quite possibly, which is why you should think carefully before answering yes if you are that other resident. In the woman's case, she had just been beaten by the dude, and he had a gun and a bunch of gang/drug-related items in the house, which the cops didn't see fit to try to tie to her; in fact they arrested the guys doe domestic violence.

Re:Complete Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348767)

Nobody else can give someone permission to search my domicile. Period.

Not if you are married. It is no longer just YOUR home and YOUR stuff. Now it is, as we would say in the South, Y'ALL home and Y'ALL stuff. Your wife would have just as much of a right to consent to the search.

No the new law seems to apply to a GF or any resident in the home, which I'm thinking goes too far.

You don't sound Southern. First, because "Y'ALL home" is what you yell out when you drop in unexpectedly, not a term of possession. Secondly, you think that the little woman has rights.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

xevioso (598654) | about 2 months ago | (#46348613)

Screw that. The cops don't need to find the people who are actually on the lease. They don't need to find who paid the last rent check. That is not their job. All they have to do, and SHOULD have to do, is get approval from an occupant to enter the place to search. If the woman, who had just been beaten by her boyfriend, wanted to say no, she could have, and that would have been that.

Or maybe she thought, "Hey, NOW'S a perfect opportunity to get rid of that scumbag once and for all. Come on in, Coppers!" Which they did, and now that jerk is serving 14 years behind bars. Good for her.

Re:Complete Bullshit (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 months ago | (#46348841)

Good for her.

Result: The cops can now sit in a van waiting for the owner to go out for milk before they knock on the door and ask the remaining weak-willed/simpleton residents to search the house.

Sometimes it's better to let a guilty man go free than to pass bad (ie. abusable) laws to catch him.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about 2 months ago | (#46348843)

The cops don't need to find the people who are actually on the lease. They don't need to find who paid the last rent check.

You're right, they don't—as long as they have a warrant. If they're going to claim consent, however, then it needs to be from someone with the right to give consent, which means the actual, verified owner of the property, or someone to whom the owner has consciously delegated that right.

Otherwise they wouldn't need consent at all. Anyone could give it for any search, meaning that the police could just give themselves consent.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 months ago | (#46348969)

Screw that. The cops don't need to find the people who are actually on the lease. They don't need to find who paid the last rent check. That is not their job. All they have to do, and SHOULD have to do, is get approval from an occupant to enter the place to search.

Nope. They should have to get a warrant, or have reasonable suspicion that there was something illegal on the premises.

In this case they'd just arrested the owner on suspicion of robbery and taken him away. That's reasonable suspicion and should be given as the reason they entered the house, not because somebody else opened the door for them and let them in.

Re:Complete Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348699)

Clearly you need to be more careful on who you take on as a roommate. If the police show up and your roommate is ignorant of your activities and lets them in then it is your own damn fault.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 2 months ago | (#46348759)

If you live with someone, that person also lives there and it is also his home. That person can give permission to search the domicile. That you said no is irrelevant if you are not there to object because you were arrested for a crime. Remember, he was not arrested for saying no to the search, he was arrested for robbery.

You do not have final say if the place you live can be searched if you are not the only person who lives there.

Re:Complete Bullshit (1)

preaction (1526109) | about 2 months ago | (#46348913)

It's not only people who live there, but if my estranged cousin from Sri Lanka (who are well-known for their ignorance of US law) is visiting and invites the cops in, they can come in and there's no longer any legal grounds to fight the resulting arrest on the basis of illegal search.

Any occupant at all. I wonder if my dog could consent...

Who needs that pesky Fourth Amendment anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348355)

Now anyone can invite the jackbooted thugs into your home!

I've to admit... (1)

David Betz (2845597) | about 2 months ago | (#46348383)

...I thought this was the law anyways. I never realized that n-contents were required for an n-resident facility. Of course, I'd like more clarification on occupant: Does my dog giving the "Pet me! Pet me!" look count as an occupant? Does crazy, drunk uncle Bill staying the weekend count?

Re:I've to admit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348471)

[[ Does my dog giving the "Pet me! Pet me!" look count as an occupant? Does crazy, drunk uncle Bill staying the weekend count? ]]
Reasonable person test says, respectively: "no, because it is a dog. Yes, because the cops cannot tell your drunk uncle Bill isn't the homeowner in an exigent* situation." (* And one may lump in with exigent situations any situation where the police have already made contact with someone and must assume that if they break contact, someone horrible will either do something terrible to the police [which they always use maximum available force to prevent] or will do something terrible to some innocent person on the premises, which later the police could be blamed for.)

Re:I've to admit... (5, Funny)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 2 months ago | (#46348543)

Same here. I thought that the cops operated under the same rules as vampires.

Re:I've to admit... (3, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 2 months ago | (#46348649)

I like that analogy! The only quibble I have is that, as far as I know, vampires can't get a warrant.

Re:I've to admit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348929)

I like that analogy! The only quibble I have is that, as far as I know, vampires can't get a warrant.

Varrants? Ve don't need no stinking varrants! <flourishes cape>

Re:I've to admit... (1)

azadrozny (576352) | about 2 months ago | (#46348567)

I do see a slippery slope here, but generally agree with the decision. The police shouldn't have to verify that the person answering the door is a resident or owner. The fact that they open the door should be enough permission.

Re:I've to admit... (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about 2 months ago | (#46348681)

The police shouldn't have to verify that the person answering the door is a resident or owner.

They should if they're claiming to have consent to search the place. They can't get consent from anyone else; it would just as much sense for a complete stranger such as myself to give consent for them to search your home. If they can't get consent from someone confirmed to have the right to give it then they are welcome to come back later with a warrant.

Re:I've to admit... (2)

olsmeister (1488789) | about 2 months ago | (#46348775)

What should concern you here is that the police simply removed the occupant that objected to the search and then obtained consent from the remaining occupant (who probably saw what happened to contestant #1 and didn't care to share the same fate).

Re:I've to admit... (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about 2 months ago | (#46348585)

Of course, I'd like more clarification on occupant

That was my question as well. The premise behind searching with consent is that the person giving the consent has the right to allow anyone to perform a search—the police aren't using any special privileges to gain access. It makes sense that they would only need permission from one person, but that person would need to be in a position to give said permission legally. That may not be true for everyone in the house, or even everyone who lives there permanently. A minor, for example, should not be able to give consent for a search. Neither should guests be able to give consent for the search of someone else's home.

End round around (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348387)

Step 1: Just take them downtown for questioning
Step 2: search the premise...ANYWAY.
Step 3: Profit!

Sorry, officer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348403)

All I am getting out of this ruling is that I should never let police into my house for any reason. If they need to use a phone they can use it from my porch and if I don't have window blinds then they can stand on the lawn.

I don't have anything illegal in my home and I don't do anything illegal in my home but who knows what a policeman will see that he trumps up into some charge right before my eyes.

No. Forget it.

"I'm sorry it's 110 degrees outside today, officer. I'd invite you in, but I can't trust you not to see something innocuous and turn it into a prison sentence."

Deoderant rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348529)

"I'm sorry it's 110 degrees outside today, officer. I'd invite you in, but I can't trust you not to see something innocuous and turn it into a prison sentence."

Long story short, the cops searched my in-laws (VERY long story but they were victims) and upon seeing one of those deodorant rocks, confiscated it. We're in Georgia and the cops were white Southern stereotypes. I don't think it would have been a problem in California.

The other thing is that everyone in the US of A commits three felenies a day on average. [wsj.com] So, yes it IS quite probable that if the cops search your home they WILL find something - I don't care who you are.

Re:Deoderant rocks (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 months ago | (#46348623)

Long story short, the cops searched my in-laws (VERY long story but they were victims) and upon seeing one of those deodorant rocks

Ok, I have to ask, WTF is a "deodorant rock"???

Re:Deoderant rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348729)

I'm going to go out on a limb and say "bath salts".

Next, on "Lassie"... (5, Funny)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 2 months ago | (#46348413)

Cop: What's that, Lassie?
Lassie: WOOF!
Cop: You say it's okay for us to look in Timmy's room for a NICE JUICY STEAK?
Timmy: Now just a darn --
Lassie: WOOF!
Cop: Good girl! Step aside, Timmy...

Re:Next, on "Lassie"... (2)

N0Man74 (1620447) | about 2 months ago | (#46348509)

I know you are joking with the dog, but it did make me wonder if a child/teen (who probably wouldn't know their rights) could be tricked into giving consent to a search, against their parents wishes.

That might be the one place where the law decides a minor can give consent...

This seems to lower the bar to whatever member of a household can be bullied or tricked into consenting to a warrant-less search.

Re:Next, on "Lassie"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348577)

And for Flying Spaghetti Monster's sake, don't teach your parrot to say "Come on in" or even "Yes" for that matter.

Re:Next, on "Lassie"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348697)

Or taking a page from like every crime drama on TV ever
"You either let us help or those evil other people at the DA's office are going to put'em away for good"

So... (5, Insightful)

the_skywise (189793) | about 2 months ago | (#46348415)

If I object to the search then they arrest me and take me away. Then come back and ask my wife if they can search the house... If she objects do they arrest her too or consent.
If nobody is then in the house they can easily get a warrant because, hey, both occupants were arrested for obstructing justice so they must be hiding something and nobody is there ANYWAY so it's probably a "good idea"(tm) for the judge to issue a warrant to make sure everythings, y'know, SAFE for neighborhood children.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348479)

In those words... yes.

Reminds me of Brazil, where sometimes your new TV (or satellite dish, or laptop, or teenage daughter, or whatever else they saw through the living room window) is 'very suspicious' and confiscated 'for justice'.

Re:So... (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 2 months ago | (#46348581)

Who has been arrested for calmly declining a request for a search?

Re:So... (5, Interesting)

brainboyz (114458) | about 2 months ago | (#46348861)

I have. Cop asked if he could search my truck during a traffic stop. I was arrested so the truck would be "unattended" thus could be towed and he could "inventory" it.

"I would prefer you didn't."
"Why?"
"Strictly on principle. I don't agree with that and not a fan of people digging through my stuff."
"Sir, I'm going to have you step out of the car and place your hands behind you back..."

Re:So... (5, Informative)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 2 months ago | (#46348659)

Walter Fernandez, the person who said refused to allow the search, was arrested in connection with the street robbery that the police were investigating. The sounds of an argument led the police to the apartment. Roxanne Rojas, Fernandez's girlfriend answered the door and Fernandez told the police they couldn't search the place. About an hour after Fernandez was arrested, the police returned to the apartment and asked the other person who lived there, Fernandez's girlfriend, if they could search the apartment and she said yes.She could have hidden or moved anything incriminating between the time Fernandez was arrested and the time the police returned. She could have said no and that would have been the end of it because she wasn't a suspect in any crime.

Really, the take away of this is "Don't piss off your girlfriend if you just robbed someone and don't want her to let the police search the apartment."

Re:So... (1)

Reibisch (1261448) | about 2 months ago | (#46348661)

While I understand your sentiment, he wasn't arrested for refusing to provide consent for a search - that's still quite illegal. He was 'arrested in connection with the street robbery and taken away.'

The real issue as I see it with this ruling is that the hypothetical other occupant could be manipulated into providing consent. Eg, "Occupant A, if you don't let us search, we're going to arrest you on [insert something that an officer can dream up to get an arrest], but if you let us search your house for evidence against occupant B, then maybe we'll just forget about that for now."

Re:So... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 months ago | (#46348831)

If you object to a warrantless search in the first place, they can't take you away for obstruction (disclaimer: IANAL), any more than they can use your refusal to consent to a search of your car as a reasonable cause for searching your car. If they did, any evidence they discovered (and then any evidence they later discovered thanks to the clues they picked up from the search, thanks to the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine [wikipedia.org]) would be inadmissible as a result of being procured from an illegal search, and they don't want to risk that.

Not a problem (5, Funny)

Aeonym (1115135) | about 2 months ago | (#46348431)

You libertarians make this seem like a really big deal, but there's a simple solution: if you want to be absolutely sure the police can't enter your home when they come knocking, just kill everyone else inside before answering the door.

Re:Not a problem (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 months ago | (#46348569)

I'm not sure the idea of "protecting provisions enumerated in the bill of rights" qualifies as a "libertarian-whateveryouguyscalltherestofus" divide. I'm pretty sure you'd get like 90% of Americans to agree the bill of rights is a great idea if you asked them. The problem here is the hyper-conservative majority of the supreme court, for whom legal protection is an idea that only applies to corporations. If you read the majority opinion, it's basically "who cares if someone objects?" And the dissenting opinion is more or less what everyone here is saying.

On the other hand, the crime being covered up was that the objector beat an infant, and the mother of the infant agreed to the search. Which sounds a lot more sympathetic.

Re:Not a problem (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 2 months ago | (#46348733)

a "libertarian-whateveryouguyscalltherestofus" divide

"Authoritarian," "statist" or "totalitarian" might be the word you're looking for. (Not "socialist," or "liberal" though, as those are not mutually exclusive with libertarian -- see the Green Party as an example.)

I see civil suits (2)

PPH (736903) | about 2 months ago | (#46348435)

Person objects to a search. Roommate allows search. Subsequently, person sues roommate for allowing the violation of his privacy.

If you have a roommate, you'd better have an agreement (maybe even written) about who is allowed to do what when it involves each others property and legal rights.

Re:I see civil suits (1)

xevioso (598654) | about 2 months ago | (#46348647)

How can you sue someone for "allowing violation of your privacy?" Is this on the books? Is there a law somewhere I am not aware of where that is something you can sue over? Or did you make that up?

Define Occupant vs. Owner or Tenant (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 2 months ago | (#46348477)

I wonder if this means that a visiting relative or friend can allow the police to search your place without the owners or listed tenant consent? I certainly think owners listed on a deed or listed tenants on a lease/rental agreement would be the only ones authorized to do that, not just somebody living there. I think this ruling means that if one person says no consent that all people living there need to follow suit. This is definitely a bad ruling though because how was the search related to the crime? Did he use the shotgun or flash gang signs when he did it? It just seems like "oh sure, we found a shotgun and a bandana he's a bad guy" vs "we found the stolen loot." Sure he was given 14 years for the robbery and justice prevails but our rights now are further diminished.

Re:Define Occupant vs. Owner or Tenant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348535)

What if the landlords just blanket authorize any police searches in the lease agreement?

Re:Define Occupant vs. Owner or Tenant (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 months ago | (#46348605)

Cops don't have time for determining property ownership. If a person looks like a resident of a dwelling, then they are a resident of the dwelling.

Arguably, the warrant is all about the cops making time to determine whether or not they should be entering without permission.... I think this particular ruling is going to get nuanced, several times, before settling down as well understood case law.

Re:Define Occupant vs. Owner or Tenant (1)

brainboyz (114458) | about 2 months ago | (#46348925)

Don't have time to do their job correctly? It's as simple as asking "do you live here?"

Some people really should check how easy they make it for cops to trample rights.

Still requires all present to consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348493)

I don't like the ruling, but the article implies that if anyone present objects, the police have no right to enter.

Does the occupant need to be over 18? (1)

bazmail (764941) | about 2 months ago | (#46348563)

I can see cops dangling candy to kids through the cat-flap in return for allowing them to enter. You may giggle but you know its going to happen.

As a European I am constantly astounded by how much the US government despises its own people.

Who is an "occupant" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348591)

I'll be curious to see who is considered an "occupant" under these rules. The big danger I see here is in police knocking on a door that is answered by a child who is either a) intimidated by an authority figure, or b) conditioned per traditional social norms, to say "okay" when asked a question. Would a housekeeper or other non-resident count? What about a neighbor or other person who happens to be on the property at the time? And since this ruling applies to non-emergency situations, can officers sit watching a house to determine when they will have the best chance of getting an occupant that will consent? I realize these seem like edge cases, but the real world has a habit of not fitting traditional expectations.

The worst part of this is that it seems to continue the unfortunate trend (already evidenced in an earlier post) that you cannot trust the police for anything, and that this needs to be taught as young as possible to prevent a child from opening the door - both literally and figuratively - to potential trouble. As I heard recently, the proper answer for when a law enforcement officer asks you the time is "I'm sorry, I'll have to consult my lawyer"... what a shame.

I see it now (4, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | about 2 months ago | (#46348615)

Ask Person #1 "Do you consent to a search?"
Violent arrest takedown for "Obstruction" of Person #1
Ask Person #2 "Do you consent to a search?"
Violent arrest takedown for "Obstruction" of Person #2
Ask Person #3 "Do you consent to a search?"
"Sure, don't tase me bro"

"In this case, one person objected to the search and was arrested followed by the police returning and receiving the consent of the remaining occupant. "

Re:I see it now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348945)

When the police approach one like that, the answer is, ``I will comply, but I do not consent.''

The Court got this one wrong (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 2 months ago | (#46348807)

Besides opening up issues of arresting people to force consent, and the issue of 'non-owners' consenting, it also effectively allows an angry ex-spouse to grant consent.

That, if someone's ex-husband who is still legally a part owner of the house but not a real resident, consents to the search, what happens?

Throw in a motive to plant evidence on the ex, along with reasonable, if limited access, and this leads to some very real problems.

Coming soon : Locked door equals "probable cause" (1)

tekrat (242117) | about 2 months ago | (#46348907)

Because after all, if your door is locked, you *must* have something to hide.....

Time to let legislators legislate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348937)

People gotta wake up and remember that the supreme court is supposed to act as a check and balance. We shouldn't be letting cases like this get to the Supreme Court at all... we need to be getting in touch with our legislators at the state and federal level and letting them know that we need privacy legislation.

What is an occupant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46348993)

Does the court define what an occupant is? Could an occupant be anybody currently in the residence or does it need to be someone who resides in the residence? If so, seems that neighbors are a dangerous commodity these days.

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