High Court Agrees to Consider When Police May Search Home
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Supreme Court on Monday said it will consider whether police may search a home when one occupant consents but another does not.
Justices will review the case of Scott Fitz Randolph of Georgia, who was charged with cocaine possession in 2001 following a domestic disturbance call by his wife. When police arrived, she complained that Randolph had taken away their son and that he had been using cocaine.
A few minutes later, Randolph returned home and told police the son was at a neighbor's home. Officers then asked to search the couple's home, but Randolph objected. Mrs. Randolph, however, consented and led police to a drug stash inside the couple's bedroom.
At issue is whether the search violated the Fourth Amendment ban against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The Georgia Supreme Court said yes, reasoning that police must defer to an objecting occupant's position when two people have equal use and control of the home.
Other lower courts, however, are divided on the issue. Many hold that a consent from one occupant is sufficient, since cohabitants assume the risk when living together that "one of their number might permit the common area to be searched."
The case is Georgia v. Randolph, 04-1067.
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