Per the Fourth Amendment, police need a warrant before they search you
or your effects. A Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday changed this, if only slightly.
According to the ruling, if there are two occupants of a home – one
of them consenting to the search and the other not – officers can
enter the residence without a warrant if the refusing resident is lawfully arrested.
The decision also held that a resident cannot remotely object to a search,
in other words, object to a search of the premises if they are not on
The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that an occupant who is arrested
and an occupant who is not at their place of residence are essentially
in the same position. Because an occupant cannot remotely object to a
police search of their premises, neither can occupants who have been arrested.
This decision stemmed from a Los Angeles case in which a man was arrested
and later convicted of robbery and gun crimes after police entered his
place of residence and found a shotgun, ammunition and a knife. The man
denied police entry into his home but was later arrested. After his arrest,
police went back to his apartment where the girlfriend allowed them entry.
Tuesday's Supreme Court decision reverses a 2006 ruling that when two
occupants disagree on whether to allow police entry, the objecting party
always wins and police do not get to search the premises.
Read a copy of the Supreme Court case
Fernandez v. California