Facts of the case
Scott Randolph was arrested for drug possession after police found cocaine in his home. The police did not have a warrant to search the home, but Randolph’s wife consented to the search. Randolph was also present at the time of the search, however, and objected to the police request. At trial, his attorney argued that the search was unconstitutional because of Randolph’s objection, while the prosecution argued that the consent of his wife was sufficient. The trial court ruled for the prosecution, but the appellate court and Georgia Supreme Court both sided with Randolph, finding that a search is unconstitutional if one resident objects, even if another resident consents.
The Fourth Amendment recognizes a valid warrantless entry and search of a premises when the police obtain the voluntary consent of an occupant who shares, or is reasonably believed to share, common authority over the property, and no present co-tenant objects. The constant element in assessing Fourth Amendment reasonableness in such cases is the great significance given to widely shared social expectations, which are influenced by property law but not controlledby its rules. Thus, Matlock not only holds that a solitary co-inhabitant may sometimes consent to a search of shared premises, but also stands for the proposition that the reasonableness of such a search is in significant part a function of commonly held understandings about the authority that co-inhabitants may exercise in ways that affect each other’s interests.
- Advocates: Paula K. Smith argued the cause for Petitioner Michael R. Dreeben argued the cause for Petitioner Thomas C. Goldstein argued the cause for Respondent
- Petitioner: Georgia
- Respondent: Scott Fitz Randolph
- DECIDED BY:Roberts Court
- Location: –
|Citation:||547 US 103 (2006)|
|Granted:||Apr 18, 2005|
|Argued:||Nov 8, 2005|
|Decided:||Mar 22, 2006|