Georgia v. Randolph 547 U.S. 103, 126 S. Ct. 1515, 164 L. Ed.2d 208 (2006)
Randolph and his wife were
having marital problems. They got into a big fight and Randolph walked
out with their son. The wife called the police.
Randolph's wife told the
police that Randolph was a drug user. Randolph returned and denied using
Randolph's wife told the
police that there were drugs in the house and she'd show them where they
were. Randolph refused to consent to a search of the house, but his wife
gave her consent. She took the police upstairs where they found evidence
of drug use.
The police called the DA who
told them to stop the search and get a warrant. They arrested the
Randolphs, got a warrant, came back and found more drugs. Randolph was
arrested for drug possession.
The Trial Court convicted
Randolph of drug possession. He appealed.
Randolph argued that the
police could not search his house without his consent, regardless of what his wife may have
consented to. Therefore the search was unreasonable and violation of the
The Appellate Court reversed
and granted a motion to suppress. The prosecutor appealed.
The Appellate Court found
that "an individual who chooses to live with another assumes a risk
no greater than an inability to control access to the premises during
The Georgia Supreme Court
affirmed. The prosecutor appealed.
The US Supreme Court affirmed.
The US Supreme Court found
that a co-resident could refuse a consent search even if another resident
consented (as long as they were physically present).
"A physically present
co-occupant's stated refusal to permit entry prevails, rendering the
warrantless search unreasonable and invalid as to him."
One of the key points in
this decision was the fact that Randolph was physically present and
explicitly refused consent. In previous cases, the US Supreme Court had
held that one resident could give consent if the other resident is not
present, even if that other resident later objects.
See Illinois v.
Rodriguez (497 U.S. 177 (1990)),
and United States v. Matlock
(415 U.S. 164 (1974)).
The Court noted that common
social expectations are that if one person says yes to inviting someone
in and one person says no, then the caller generally would not feel
invited to come in.
In a dissent it was argued
that a roommate could always take some evidence out of the house and give
it to the police. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy with
respect to your roommates in a similar way to how there is no reasonable
expectation of privacy for statements you make to a third party.
Basically, the rule is that a
person can grant consent to a search a home if their roommates are not
present to object. However, if an objector is present, the search cannot
produce admissible evidence against that person.
Consent can be give by a third
party (like a roommate). Interestingly, if it turns out that this person
couldn't give consent (like they were lying about being your roommate),
the evidence of the search is still admissible under the good faith