The fact that a criminal case recently made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrates how complex this area of law can become. The matter that made its way to the court concerned a warrantless search conducted at a home. While individual objected to this search at the time of his arrest, his girlfriend had consented to a search of the home being conducted after this individual was placed under arrest.
A 2006 ruling held that police could not make the search of a home or apartment when one person living there objects to the search. However, in the current case the court declined to extend this ruling. Judge Alito wrote: “Putting the exception the court adopted in Randolph to one side, the lawful occupant of a house or apartment should have the right to invite the police to enter the dwelling and conduct a search. Any other rule would trample on the rights of the occupant who is willing to consent.”
This came down to a 6-3 decision. While the majority felt that such a warrantless search was allowable, the dissenting justices expressed concern that officers may use such a decision to avoid adhering to requirements for the issuing of a warrant. The dissenting opinion also spoke of the securing of “the approval of a neutral magistrate” in determining whether a search met all legal requirements.
Whether it is in the state of Washington or any other location in the country, individuals arrested are entitled to a criminal defense lawyer to represent them at trial. It is especially important to locate an experienced attorney because they understand the wide range of tactics that police officers may use in making an arrest. These actions often require quick responsiveness on the part of clients.
Source: ABA Journal, “Cops may search home when suspect objects but girlfriend later consents, Supreme Court says,” Debra Cassens Weiss, Feb. 25, 2014