Can the Police Answer a Seized Cell Phone?

The Ninth Circuit recently decided a case that addresses a question I’ve been asked several times: may the police answer a seized cell phone? The answer may depend on the basis for, and circumstances of, the seizure. On the facts before the Ninth Circuit, the court answered no. The Ninth Circuit case. The case is … Read more

Scope of Consent to Search a Vehicle

Yesterday, I wrote about a pair of recent cases about weaving within a lane of travel. Today, I want to mention another pair of recent cases related to automobiles. Last month, the court of appeals decided, on the same day, two cases that address the scope of a suspect’s consent to search a vehicle. In … Read more

Consent to Search under Threat of Search Warrant

To be valid, consent to search must be voluntary. Is consent voluntary when given after an officer thrreatens to obtain a search warrant if consent is withheld? Generally, yes. See State v. Kuegel, 195 N.C. App. 310 (2009) (consent to search was given voluntarily even though officer said that if consent was denied he “would … Read more

Parents’ Consent to Search Childrens’ Rooms

It was Father’s Day this Sunday, so it’s a good time for a post about family relationships. As a jumping off point, I’ll use a case that was recently highlighted in one of the clipping services to which I subscribe. The case is State v. Hubert, __ S.W.2d __, 2010 WL 2077166 (Tex. Ct. Crim. … Read more

Consent Searches and Outbuildings

The scope of a suspect’s consent to search is determined objectively, by “what . . . the typical reasonable person [would] have understood by the exchange between the officer and the suspect.” Florida v. Jimeno, 500 U.S. 248 (1991). There is a split of authority regarding whether a reasonable person would understand consent to search … Read more

Do You Mind if I Search?

I’ve bumped into a couple recent cases in which law enforcement officers have requested consent to search a car and have received ambiguous responses. (For a discussion of when officers may ask for consent to search during a traffic stop, see this prior post and the linked document.) I thought I’d share the cases and … Read more

Terry Frisk During a Consensual Encounter?

Note about holiday blogging schedule: Because I am certain that all of you are planning your holidays around this blog, I thought I’d mention that I’ll continue to post daily through the holidays, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Today’s post: The North Carolina Supreme Court recently … Read more

Computer Searches and the Scope of Consent

Most readers of this blog know (1) that a search done pursuant to consent doesn’t violate the Fourth Amendment, but (2) that the scope of search is limited by the terms of the consent.  Thus, if Ollie Officer asks Sam Suspect whether he can search Sam’s house for the body of Vickie Victim, and Sam … Read more