Case Law 4 Cops Main Logo


Consent-A person may voluntarily waive his/her Fourth Amendment right to require the government to obtain a search warrant.

Click on the case titles to link to the full case decision.

Chapman v. US, 365 U.S. 610 (1961)-A landlord cannot give consent to police to enter a tenant's home and search it.  

Davis v. United States, 327 F.2d 301, 303-04 (9th Cir. 1964)-"Absent express orders from the person in possession against any possible trespass, there is no rule of private or public conduct which makes it illegal per se, or a condemned invasion of the person’s right of privacy, for anyone openly and peaceably, at high noon, to walk up the steps and knock on the front door of any man’s “castle” with the honest intent of asking questions of the occupant thereof—whether the questioner be a pollster, a salesman, or an officer of the law."

Stoner v. California, 376 US 483 (1964)-A hotel guest is treated like a tenant. A hotel employee cannot give consent to search a room while the guest is occupying it.

Bumper v. North Carolina, 391 US 543 (1968)-A search cannot be justified as lawful on the basis of consent when that "consent" has been given only after the official conducting the search has (falsely) asserted that he possesses a warrant; there is no consent under such circumstances.

Graves v. Beto, 424 F.2d 524 (5th Cir. 1970)-An officer deceives a rape suspect into giving a blood sample. The officer told him that the sample was to be used to determine drunkenness. The sample, however, was used for comparison with blood found at the rape scene. The court determined that the consent was not voluntary.

Piazzola v. Watkins, 442 F.2d 284 (5th Cir. 1971)-Even if the university has the authority to do an inspection of a dormitory room, it cannot give consent for the police to search the room.

Harless v. Turner, 456 F.2d 1337 (10th Cir. 1972)-The court determined that the police coerced the consenter simply by facing the consenter with multiple officers in the middle of the night.

Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 US 218 (1973)-When a consent to search is sought from a person not in custody, the police are not required to give the person Miranda type warnings. Particularly, the police do not have to tell the person that he has the right to refuse the search. The overall circumstances, however, will be considered by the court to determine the voluntariness of the consent.

US v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164 (1974)- Having joint authority over the premises, a third-party can consent to a search for evidence against the defendant. The third-party must have authority over the particular area.

US v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411 (1976)-After Watson was arrested, he was read his Miranda rights. He was then asked for consent to search his vehicle, which he gave. The court ruled that the consent to search was voluntary even though Watson was in custody and he was not told he could refuse the search.

Lo-Ji sales, Inc. v. New York, 442 U.S. 319 (1979)-After a person is arrested and is aware of the police's authority to search with a search warrant, his subsequent consent to search could not be considered voluntary. In this case, the search warrant was determined to be invalid. The police could not then rely on the consent to justify the seizure of the evidence. "Any 'consent' given in the face of 'colorably lawful coercion' cannot validate the illegal acts shown here."

US v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544 (1980) "seizure" of respondent, requiring objective justification, occurred when the agents approached her on the concourse and asked questions of her. A person has been "seized" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment only if, in view of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave, and as long as the person to whom questions are put remains free to disregard the questions and walk away, there has been no intrusion upon that person's liberty or privacy as would require some particularized and objective justification.

Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177 (1990)-As long as the police reasonably, but mistakenly believe the person giving consent has the authority to do so, the evidence obtained is admissible. In this case the person that gave consent advised that the apartment belonged to the defendant and her. She further told the police that she had clothes and furniture inside. She opened the door with a key she possessed. It was later determined that the consenter had moved out of the residence.

Florida v. Jimeno, 500 US 248 (1991)-When a person gives a general consent to search of his vehicle for drugs, the officer is not required to get separate consent for each container found that could hold the object of the search.

Ohio v. Robinette, 519 US 33 (1996)-Police are not required to tell a driver on a traffic stop that he is free to go before asking for consent to search.

Georgia v. Randolph, 000 U.S. 04-1067 (2006)-An occupant of a residence cannot grant police consent to search of the residence for evidence over the unequivocal objections of a present co-occupant.

US v. Crapser, No. 05-30456 (9th Cir. 2007)-The initial contact with the defendant was consensual. The officers politely knocked on the door. They waited patiently for the defendant to answer. They did not show force or exert their authority. They did not try to enter the residence without permission. The encounter took place during the day, and on the sidewalk in public view. The officers did not restrict the movement of the defendant. All of these factors support a freely given consent to search a motel room.

US v. Wilburn, No. 05-4073 (7th Cir. 2007)-The police went to Wilburn's house to investigate his unlawful possession of firearms after felony conviction.  When they arrived, they observed Wilburn exit the rear of his residence, get into his vehicle and pull around the block to the front the house.  The officers stopped Wilburn on traffic and arrested him for driving under suspension.  Wilburn was detained in the police car proximity 40ft. for his residence. While Wilburn was being detained in the patrol car, the police contacted Wilburn's roommate .  The officers obtained consent to search of the apartment from the roommate and entered the residence to conduct a search.  The officers searched the bedroom and closet area that was shared by the roommate and Wilburn.  During the search, they found a handgun.  Wilburn later objected to the consent to search because it was obtained from the roommate and not from him.  The court ruled that the roommate could give a valid consent because Wilburn was not present to object to the search.  As long as the police did not deliberately detain Wilburn and remove him to keep him from objecting to the consent, the consent was valid.

US v. Chaney, 09-1835 (1st Cir. 2011)-"Given consent to retrieve an object from a cramped space, like a pocket, it is objectively reasonable to assume that the consent extends to the removal of items that either may constitute the object of the search and cannot be immediately identified or that obstruct further access to other items in the pocket."

US v. Russell, 11-30030 (9th Cir. 2012)-When a person gives an officer general consent to search their person for drugs, the search does include the pat-searching of the groin area.

Fernandez v. California, 12-7822 (SCOTUS, 2014)-Police saw a robbery suspect from the scene to an apartment complex. They heard someone screaming from an apartment. They investigated and found a female, Roxanne Rojas, bleeding from injuries at one of the apartments. They asked her to step aside so that they could conduct a protective sweep. The suspect, Fernandez, came to the door and objected to the officers entering. They removed him and arrested him for hurting Rojas. Fernandez was later identified as the robbery suspect. An officer went back and asked Rojas for consent to search the apartment. She gave it. The officer found evidence of the robbery. Fernandez moved to have the evidence suppressed because he had objected when he was present at the apartment. The Court held that since he was lawfully arrested and removed from the apartment, his initial objection was no longer controlling. Rojas could give consent.