Does Consent to Search a Home Include Consent to Search Phones and Computers Located Inside?

Normally, the Fourth Amendment requires that police obtain a search warrant before officers may search a person’s phone or computer. But the person can waive his or her Fourth Amendment rights by consenting to a search without a warrant. The scope of a person’s consent is determined by what a “typical reasonable person [would] have understood by the exchange between the officer and the suspect.” Florida v. Jimeno, 500 U.S. 248 (1991). Applying that test, if an officer asks a suspect for consent to search the suspect’s home, and the suspect agrees, does that allow the officer to search any digital devices located inside the residence?

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Not All Warrantless Searches of Probationers Are “Directly Related” to Probation Supervision

Since 2009, all North Carolina probationers are subject to a regular condition of probation allowing warrantless searches of their person, vehicle, and premises by a probation officer. Under legislation passed that year, those searches must be for purposes “directly related to the probation supervision.” G.S. 15A-1343(b)(13). How related to probation must a search be to be “directly related”? A recent case sheds some light.

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North Carolina’s Warrantless Search Conditions

In North Carolina, probationers, post-release supervisees, and parolees are subject to warrantless searches—sometimes by a probation-parole officer, sometimes by law enforcement officers. The statutory conditions that apply to each type of offender and officer are not identical. Today’s post collects them all in one place. Before getting into any of the complicated issues about the constitutionality of a warrantless search of a supervised offender, a sensible starting point is a careful look at the language of the search condition itself.

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Book on Digital Evidence Now Available

I’m happy to announce that my book on digital evidence is now available. There are five chapters, covering (1) search warrants for digital devices, (2) warrantless searches of digital devices, (3) law enforcement access to electronic communications, (4) tracking devices, and (5) the admissibility of electronic evidence.

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The Community Caretaking Exception to the Warrant Requirement

The court of appeals recently expanded the community caretaking exception to the warrant requirement, entering a national controversy over the proper scope of the doctrine. This post explains the exception and the disagreement about its proper application. Background: United States Supreme Court. The doctrine was first recognized by the United States Supreme Court in Cady … Read more


Supreme Court Weighs in on Nonconsensual, Warrantless Blood Draws in DWI Cases

The United States Supreme Court decided Missouri v McNeely yesterday, holding that in impaired driving investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify conducting a blood test without a warrant. The high court thus resolved the split among state courts regarding whether its … Read more

Going to the Back Door

The court of appeals just decided a case that’s important for officers, as well as lawyers and judges, to know about. The case is State v. Pasour, and it began when officers received a call “that a subject living at [a specific address] had marijuana plants growing with his tomato plants.” The officers decided to … 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

State v. Fletcher and Warrantless Blood Draws

I’ve blogged before about G.S. 20-139.1(d1). When a DWI arrestee refuses to submit to a test for alcohol, that section allows “any law enforcement officer with probable cause” to “compel the [arrestee, without a search warrant] to provide blood or urine samples for analysis if the officer reasonably believes that the delay necessary to obtain … Read more