Allegations of domestic violence led to a warrantless search of an individual’s premises. This ultimately resulted in the matter being taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The facts are somewhat complex. Police were called to a premise because of what was thought of as a domestic disturbance. The owner of the premise objected to a search being conducted of the premise. However, after the owner was arrested the girlfriend who was claimed to have been attacked by the owner then consented to the premises being searched.
The court had ruled back in 2006 that searches could not be conducted when a single individual living there objected to this occurring. However, the court declined to extend this 2006 ruling to the current case. “Putting the exception the court adopted in Randolph to one side, the lawful occupant of a house or apartment should have the right to invite the police to enter the dwelling and conduct a search,” wrote Justice Alito. “Any other rule would trample on the rights of the occupant who is willing to consent.”
The current ruling was made as part of a 6-3 decision. Though the majority did not have objections to this search occurring, dissenting justices felt that officers may use this decision to “dodge” warrant requirements. There also seemed to be concerns about not having the approval of a neutral magistrate when conducting a search.
While no one condones domestic violence, being charged with such an offense should not be used as an excuse to sidestep the constitutionally protected rights that defendants have. Here in North Carolina, individuals charged with a crime are entitled to have a lawyer argue on their behalf and have the right to have their matter heard in court.
Individuals arrested are entitled to a criminal defense lawyer to represent them at trial. If you are charged with a crime you should speak to an experienced attorney who can articulate complicated criminal defense issues in an understandable manner.