Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Fernandez v. Gonzalez that police can search a home without a warrant, even if the suspect has objected, as long as he is no longer on the scene and a co-tenant gives consent.
The ruling grew out of a California case involving Los Angeles resident and robbery suspect Walter Fernandez. In Fernandez, police officers investigating a violent robbery went to the defendant’s apartment and the defendant denied the detectives the ability to search his apartment. Also present was Fernandez’s bloodied girlfriend Roxanne Rojas. Suspecting that she was the victim of domestic abuse, the officers removed defendant from the apartment and placed him under arrest. An officer later returned to the apartment and, after obtaining Rojas’ oral and written consent, searched the premises, where he found a sawed-off shotgun, a knife, ammunition and gang paraphernalia. Fernandez was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in jail.
The California Court of Appeal for the 2nd District mostly affirmed the decision and the state Supreme Court declined to review it but the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert in May 2013.
Check over at SCOTUSblog for more developments on this case.