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Supreme Court: Police Can Now Search Homes Without Warrant


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 premises.

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

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