Illinois v. Rodriguez Case Brief

Facts of the case

A woman called police officers to a residence. She showed signs of having been beaten. She led police to another residence, where she said Edward Rodriguez was asleep inside. She alleged that he had beaten her earlier in the day. The woman had a key to the residence and referred to it as “our apartment” several times. She consented to a search of the residence and police entered without a warrant. Once inside, police found drug paraphernalia and containers filled with a white powder. Police arrested Rodriguez and he was later charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. At trial, Rodriguez attempted to suppress evidence obtained during the search, arguing that the woman did not have authority to consent to the search. The woman had moved out a few weeks before the incident and no longer lived at the apartment. With no valid consent, the search violated the Fourth Amendment. The court granted the motion. The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed and the Supreme Court of Illinois denied leave to appeal.

Why is the case important?

The police were invited into the apartment of the respondent, Edward Rodriguez (the “respondent”), by a third party. Without a warrant, the police entered the apartment and found drugs and related materials.


Whether the warrantless search is prohibited under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution) because the police did not actually receive consent from someone who legitimately possessed common authority over the premises?


The search is permissible because the police had a reasonable belief that a responsible party consented to the search. The Supreme Court of the United States (“Supreme Court”) emphasized that test was not whether the party actually had any authority over the premises, but rather whether it was reasonable for the police to believe that consent was granted from a party with authority.


The Court held that a warrantless entry does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s proscription of unreasonable searches and seizures where such entry is based upon the consent of a third party whom the police, at the time of entry, reasonably believe to possess common authority over the premises, but who in fact does not possess such authority. However, since the lower court failed to render a decision on the issue, the Court remanded the case for further determination whether the police officers possessed a reasonable belief that defendant’s former roommate had common authority over the apartment.

  • Advocates: Joseph Claps on behalf of the Petitioner James W. Reilley on behalf of the Respondent Michael R. Dreeben on behalf of United States as amicus curiae, supporting the Petitioner
  • Petitioner: Illinois
  • Respondent: Edward Rodriguez
  • DECIDED BY:Rehnquist Court
  • Location: Residence
Citation: 497 US 177 (1990)
Argued: Mar 20, 1990
Decided: Jun 21, 1990
Granted: Oct 30, 1989
Illinois v. Rodriguez Case Brief