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U.S. Supreme Court Rules On Important Fourth Amendment Case

When law enforcement officers or agencies access a criminal suspect’s home without adhering to these specific requirements, that individual’s criminal defense case will almost certainly be impacted by that inappropriate invasion of privacy. For example, if law enforcement officers enter a suspect’s house without a valid warrant and seize evidence from that home, the evidence may potentially be excluded from the case against the suspect due to the insufficient or improperly executed warrant.

However, the sacred nature of a person’s home may ultimately be compromised if another occupant of the home grants permission for law enforcement to enter and conduct a search. In one recent case, the Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement officers lawfully entered the home of one suspect despite his objections. After the suspect had been arrested, his girlfriend allowed officers access to the house, despite the fact that the officers had no warrant and the girlfriend was under no obligation to let them in.

It is important for each of us to understand our right to privacy under the law. If law enforcement officers ask to enter your home and they do not have a valid warrant, you have a right to say no. However, if another legal occupant of your home grants them access, their presence may then be considered lawful.

Source: ABA Journal, “Cops may search home when suspect objects but girlfriend later consents, Supreme Court says,” Debra Cassens Weiss, Feb. 25, 2014

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