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Supreme Court Ruling Relaxes Warrant Requirements For Home Searches 500

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the arrest-everyone-until-someone-consents dept.
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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Supreme Court Ruling Relaxes Warrant Requirements For Home Searches

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  • Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realilskater (76030) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @02:30PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xevioso (598654) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @02:45PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @02:56PM (#46348735) Homepage

        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 (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@@@carpanet...net> on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @03:13PM (#46349051) Homepage

        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?

        Except that isn't really accurate now is it:

        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. They found a shotgun and gang-related material.

        So they removed him from the situation....so....there was no longer any emergency. They had left for an hour, while arresting him. There was no emergency situation at the time of the search, it was done after the fact. There was really no excuse for not getting a warrant for the search.

        • Re:Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

          by drkim (1559875) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @03:24PM (#46349233)

          There was no emergency situation at the time of the search, it was done after the fact. There was really no excuse for not getting a warrant for the search.

          There was no emergency, but they didn't "bust in claiming that it was an emergency."

          They knocked on the door and asked Rojas, who lived there, if they could enter. She said they could. So they did.
          They didn't force her - they asked her.

          If the guy had been home (he wasn't) and he had objected, they wouldn't have entered.

    • Re:Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sjames (1099) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @04:01PM (#46349723) Homepage

      Three people in the house. Police ask to search. Person 1 says no, gets arrested for silly charge and carted off. Police return and ask again. Person 2 says no, gets arrested on silly charge and carted off. Police return and ask person three while stroking handcuffs. What to say, what to say?

      • Depends on how silly the charge is. In the case in the article, it wasn't silly. Even if they threaten to arrest you, then you should still deny permission because a search can only hurt you.

        The only real question remaining is whether to rely on the courts or vigilante justice to correct the police.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Given the number of shouldn't ever happen incidents with police, anything is possible. One of my favorites is when police claim (with a strait face) that someone was arrested for resisting arrest (no other charge).

          • I've heard of this happening as well. It's why I believe that the most important election anyone can vote in is for Judges. Judges decide what police are allowed to do and that will affect your life more than any Federal and even most State policies.

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

      I would ask: what right does the "occupant" have? In this case, she might have lived there, but what if there is an "occupant" who doesn't live there? Just somebody visiting. Or even a door-to-door salesman who was left alone in the home for 5 minutes while the owner was out back.

      There is a right of ownership (and rights of occupancy, for that matter) in this country. Ignoring that leaves the door open to all kinds of abuses.

      Further, the majority argument that warrants "are a burden" has never before

  • by QilessQi (2044624) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @02:35PM (#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...

    • by N0Man74 (1620447)

      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.

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_skywise (189793) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @02:36PM (#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.

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

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by brainboyz (114458) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @03:03PM (#46348861) Homepage

        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... (Score:5, Informative)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @02:51PM (#46348659) Journal
      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."
    • 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

  • by Aeonym (1115135) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @02:37PM (#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.

    • well that escalated quickly.
    • 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 o

      • 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.)

  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @02:37PM (#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.

    • by xevioso (598654)

      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?

  • 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

    • 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.

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      visiting relative or friend can allow the police to search your place

      Depends on the circumstances and what you have said to the person.

      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.

      No. The owner of a lease/rental does not have the authority to authorize a search if it is currently leased and the owner is not a tenant unless specifically stated in the lease AND not barred by law. A contract can't override state law. By definition, "just somebody living there" would be a tenant, even if temporary or short term, such as a visiting relative or friend staying on your couch. The "somebody" can generally only authorize a searc

  • This ruling is a great boon for vampires

  • 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.
    • by jcr (53032)

      As an American with some familiarity with history, it doesn't surprise me at all. Rulers and would-be rulers have always held the people in contempt, and you can see plenty of examples of it all around you there in Europe under the Fourth Reich.

      -jcr

  • I see it now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichMan (8097) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @02:48PM (#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. "

  • 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.

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

  • by StormReaver (59959) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @03:14PM (#46349059)

    This effectively removes the fourth amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure: Just keep arresting and hauling away occupants until one of the remaining occupants gets too scared to invoke his Constitutional right.

    All six Justices who voted for this need to be impeached for treason.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @03:17PM (#46349121) Journal

    What the court did, was provide a pretext for the government to pretend that the fourth amendment doesn't say what it says. A right remains a right, even when it is violated.

    -jcr

  • by Khashishi (775369) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @03:51PM (#46349589) Journal

    Can a landlord give consent to search a tenant? (Supposing the landlord doesn't live there.)

  • by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @04:08PM (#46349817)

    Fernandez objected to a search, Fernandez was arrested, and Rojas consented to a search an hour later.

    At what point does Fernandez's objection to a search become invalid? If the cops came back one year later for a different issue, and only Rojas was home, I think most people would agree that Fernandez's objection would no longer be valid. How do you define when the objection is no longer valid?

    I think the Supreme Court got this case wrong because the police were trying to conduct the same search, but how do you define that legally?

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