The rules of search and seizure just leaned a little bit more in favor of the government today after a Supreme court ruled that if a person declines consent to search a property, someone else who resides there can consent if the original person leaves the property. Before now you would maybe expect the police to get a warrant and come back. Now they just have to hang around until you leave and ask your roommate. Read the full 6-3 ruling here.
Summary: Police saw a suspect from a violent robbery run into an apartment complex. They heard screams come from an apartment and knocked on the door. Walter Fernandez came to the door and refused to let police search the apartment.
Suspecting he assaulted a woman who was also in the residence, they arrested him and took him to jail. Later they returned and got consent from the woman to search the place. They found items linking him to the original robbery. The Supreme Court ruled that this denial of consent is only valid for the time a person is at the residence.
If person objects to a search, how long must that objection be observed -- "A week?” A month? A year? 10 years," one justice asked.
The three dissenting justices say, “the police could readily have obtained a warrant to search the shared residence.” The dissenting justices worry that instead of obtaining a warrant now police have another way to dodge it, even when they have ample time to get one from a judge.