A Supreme Court ruling introduced changes that allow police to search you and your home without a warrant under certain circumstances. This ruling was in response to a recent Los Angeles criminal case that involved an entry and search at a private California home.
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
However, the new ruling to federal law changes this slightly.
The ruling involves cases where there are two occupants of a home present when officers arrive and ask to enter the residence. If one occupant consents to the search and the other refuses, but is lawfully arrested, the officers can enter the residence without need for a warrant.
Another part of the ruling held an earlier court decision that residents can't object to a search “remotely”– that is, if they aren't at the premise when officers request entry, they can't object if a person who is at the residence consents to a search.
In the recent case, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of treating residents who are on the premises, but have been lawfully arrested, the same as residents who were not on the premises and objecting remotely. This is a reversal of a 2006 decision by the Supreme Court, ruling that in cases where two residents disagree over whether officers can enter the premises, the objecting resident always wins, and police can't search the home.
This decision stemmed from the case Fernandez v. California, which concerned a man suspected of robbery and gun crimes who refused to allow police to enter his home. The man was later arrested. When police returned to his home after the arrest, his girlfriend allowed them to enter and search the premises. Police found a knife and a shotgun with ammunition in the residence, which contributed to the man's later conviction.
With this new change to federal laws, more people in California may have their homes searched without a warrant after they're arrested. Vitaly Sigal, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, delivers aggressive defense representation for people who have been arrested and charged with various crimes and can help defend against search and seizure by police. To discuss the details of your case with Mr. Sigal, contact our office today.