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Prisoner challenges police search

A former gang member will be heard in the California Supreme Court on a case regarding a challenge to a police search. California criminal law requires police to obtain permission to search a residence or to have a search warrant. The inmate claims that the police in his case failed to obtain a warrant to search his apartment; instead, the police relied on permission to search given by his girlfriend after he was arrested for robbery.

Courts have been divided on the issue of searches authorized by a cohabitant. In some cases, courts have ruled that if one person living in a home denies police the right to search, this denial prohibits others from allowing the search. Other courts have ruled that the opposite is true; permission by one resident applies for all residents.

The Supreme Court may have agreed to hear this case because there is such a division among lower courts as to the proper answer to this problem. The chances of the Supreme Court hearing a case filed personally by a prisoner are very small. If the Supreme Court strikes down the ruling that co-habitants can consent to a search, police everywhere will be affected. However, if the Supreme Court upholds the ruling, the rights of defendants may be compromised.

A criminal defense attorney may represent a person who is accused of a crime or who has been the victim of an unlawful search and seizure. When an individual is accused of a serious crime such as robbery, that person must be sure that his or her rights are protected. Any trial may include evidence seized from a residence, car or other location; and it is important that this evidence be legally obtained.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "California robbery case leads Supreme Court to reconsider police search laws ", Michael Doyle, May 21, 2013

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