PART 1 of 5: Vehicular Searches Without a Warrant. Consent Searches.

“It is well-settled that one of the specifically established exceptions to the
requirements of both a warrant and probable cause is a search that is conducted pursuant to consent.” Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 219 (1973).

There are two requirements for a consent search to be valid. First, the
consent must be voluntarily given, meaning not be coerced, by
explicit or implicit means, by implied threat or covert force.

The second requirement for a consent search is that the consent must be given by an individual with either actual or apparent authority over the place to be searched.

“Actual” authority may be obtained “from the individual whose property is searched.” Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177, 181 (1990).

Consent to search may be given by a thirdparty “who possesses common authority over or other sufficient relationship to the … effects sought to be inspected.” United States v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164, 171 (1974)

In United States v. Fuget, the court noted that: The driver of a car has the authority to consent to a search of that vehicle. As the driver, he is the person having immediate possession of and control over the vehicle. The ‘driver may consent to a full search of the vehicle, including its trunk, glove box and other components.’ This is true even when some other person who also has control over the car is present, if the other person remains silent when the driver consents and does not object to the search. 984 F.2d 943, 948 (8th Cir. 1993).

“The standard for measuring the scope of a suspect’s consent under the Fourth Amendment is that of ‘objective’ reasonableness – what would the typical reasonable person have understood by the exchange between the officer and the suspect?” Florida v. Jimeno, 500 U.S. 248, 251 (1991)[citing United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798 (1982)]

“[I]t is very likely unreasonable to think that a suspect, by consenting to the search of his trunk, has agreed to the breaking open of a locked briefcase within the trunk, but it is otherwise with respect to a closed paper bag.” Id.

Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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