Unreasonable Search and Seizure by Police: When Another Occupant is Present and Objecting

Posted on May 8, 2013 10:48am EDT

Under Maryland law, a search of your home must be performed pursuant to a Search Warrant signed by a Court or without a warrant in particular circumstances, such as when the police have obtained your permission (consent). Courts have determined that anyone who may have an interest in the residence, such as being a tenant or an owner, can consent to a search by police. Their consent is binding on others that may live in the home even if the other occupants are not home at the time. But what happens if there is more than one person who lives in the home and they do not agree on whether police can search?

Where there is more than one occupant present at the time the police are requesting permission both have the protection of the 4th Amendment. Where one occupant agrees to a search, but another resident of the home is present and objects to the search it is illegal for police to proceed. Here are some examples of how the Law Office of William F. Riddle has successfully used this aspect of the law of Search and Seizure to protect our clients:

April 22, 2013. Disorderly Conduct; Failing to Obey A Lawful Order of Police Officer.
Client was charged after the police entered her home without her permission. The client advised police that she did not consent to the search of her residence even though a Co-Tenant had given permission to law enforcement. Client advised police that they must leave her residence, and, in response, the police placed Client under arrest. The Law Office of William F. Riddle convinced the State’s Attorney’s Office that they would lose on this issue. Our office was able to obtain a “STET” disposition for the client resulting in no finding of guilt against her.

April 17, 2013. CDS Possession – Not Marihuana; CDS Possession Paraphernalia
Client was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance and paraphernalia after the police performed a search of his home. Client and another resident were present in the home at the time of the search by police; the Co-Tenant consented to the search, but client repeatedly advised police that they did not have his permission to be in the home or to perform a search. The police did not have a warrant, but alleged that they had found CDS in the residence. The Law Office of William F. Riddle was able to obtain a STET for the client because the search amounted to an “unreasonable” search under the 4th Amendment protections guaranteed by the Constitution.