This story brought up a bit of a debate on the legality of MD cops entering a rental home when one renter originally stated that they could not enter but another later said they could.

As I understand it according to Georgia v Randolph 2004 usually this would be unlawful, though the cops apparently did it and got away with it in this case. I've seen two arguments for why it may have been lawful.

  1. after being invited by the second roommate the cop glared at the first and said excuse me, and the first relented and let the guard in. So one could argue when he let the cops in he had removed his opposition to a search. I'm not sure if the polices actions count as compelling the tenants moving or not.

  2. The cops arguable were invited in the home, but not given permission to search. They were then lead somewhere where they had plain sight evidence of a crime which authorized a search, but their original entering of the premise did not constitute a search and as such couldn't be an unlawful search.

I'm wondering if either argument would hold up in court. Would the evidence found be considered lawfully obtained if a lawyer tried to get it thrown out due to the tenants original refusal to allow a search without a warrant?


1 Answer 1


Pursuant to Georgia v. Randolph, Possibility 1 diverges significantly from the linked description in an important way, in that according to the report continued to deny permission and stood in the way of officers until they got menacing. If resident 1 accedes to the permission granted by resident 2, there is consent and the search is legal. The court held that

a disputed invitation, without more, gives an officer no better claim to reasonableness in entering than the officer would have absent any consent. Disputed permission is no match for the Fourth Amendment central value of “respect for the privacy of the home”

Until permission is explicitly (unequivocally) withdrawn, permission to enter entails permission to walk around and see. Since the contraband was in plain sight, there was no need for additional consent to see the drugs in resident 1's room. Note that the 4th Amendment frames the matter in terms of searches, not "entries or searches" suggesting that you could consent to one but not to the other.

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