According to a Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday, law enforcement may enter a home without a warrant if two occupants disagree whether or not police can enter and one of the occupants is arrested. The decision came after a domestic dispute case involving a suspect and his girlfriend, who lived together in Los Angeles.
When police approached the man's home, his girlfriend opened the door. According to new sources, she had was holding an infant and had blood on her hands and shirt. She told police that she was "in a fight," but her boyfriend refused to let the police enter the house. The officers suspected domestic violence, escorted the man from his home in handcuffs, and later noticed that he matched the description of a robbery suspect.
After the boyfriend was arrested, police returned to the house and asked the woman if they could enter without a search warrant. She said yes.
According to the ruling, occupants cannot object to a search if they are not home, even if they are absent because of an arrest or lawful detention. In other words, the boyfriend was no longer able to object to the search because he was arrested on suspicion of robbery.
In 2006, the court ruled that, when two occupants disagree about letting police search their home, the objecting occupant should prevail. In this case, though, police had the authority to remove the objecting party from the home because they suspected domestic violence.
While the 2006 ruling still stands, the U.S. Supreme Court maintained its argument that the officers were justified in their search because the girlfriend had the authority to let them enter the house.