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11-14-13, 03:11 PM #1
Supreme Court considers whether police can search home if one resident consents after another one refusesThe officers knocked and Roxanne Rojas, Fernandez's girlfriend, answered the door, holding a baby and looking bruised and bloodied. Police asked her if anyone else was at home and if they could search the apartment. Fernandez stepped forward and refused the search.Police arrested Fernandez for the gang assault and left Rojas and her son to recover. About an hour later, after Fernandez had been taken away, one of the officers went back to Rojas, told her Fernandez had been arrested and asked one more time if they could search the apartment. Rojas said yes and signed an affidavit.Police found a sawed-off shotgun, gang-affiliated clothes, ammunition and a knife when they searched the apartment, which they presented as evidence that Fernandez was guilty of the assault. Fernandez argued that the evidence was seized illegally.The trial court and the California Court of Appeal, 2nd District, disagreed with Fernandez and allowed the evidence. The California Supreme Court denied Fernandez's appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. So does the warrantless search run afoul of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure?. "This could create a huge complication for officers because they would have to find out if at any time a co-tenant had refused a search," said Chief David Spotts, chief of the Mechanicsburg Police Department and executive board member of the legal officers section of the International Association of Chiefs of Police."What if they'd told a different police department that they refused a search? If the ruling is for Fernandez, I think this becomes a really complicated procedure for police to navigate in future situations with co-tenants," Spotts said.
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