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If the police show up at my door to search for pot and they have no warrant, should I let them in?

Answer:

No, you should not let the police into your home and let them search for marijuana without a search warrant; but if you do, you might be able to get the case thrown out. On December 10, 2015, the Supreme Court of Florida decided the case of Rodriguez v. Florida. Bail bondsman showed up at Mr. Rodriguez's door looking for one of their clients. Rodriguez told them he was not there. He gave the bondsman permission to search his home to look for their man; they didn't find him, but they did find a marijuana 'grow room' in a locked bedroom. The bondsman called the police. The police arrived and Rodriguez (unfortunately) gave the police consent to search his home. He even signed a form consenting to a search of his home. Rodriguez was arrested.

Rodriguez's lawyer moved to suppress (throw out) the marijuana that the police found. First off, they had no search warrant. Second, although he "consented" to a search of his home, he testified that he only did this because he was scared (the police wore masks and carried guns). Although the Judge determined that Rodriguez was coerced to sign the consent form and that the police should have gotten a search warrant, the Judge nonetheless found that the inevitable discovery doctrine applied.

Now wait a minute. Just what is the inevitable discovery doctrine? It's a concept that says even if the police acted improperly, if the evidence would have been discovered anyway, it won't be suppressed by a court. But here, the police did not stumble upon a marijuana grow operation. A bail bondsman, looking for someone else did, and called the police on Rodriguez. There were no exigent (emergency) circumstances and if the police had simply applied for a search warrant, they would have been able to get one. So a higher court found that the warrantless search was unconstitutional and threw out the case.

Lessons Learned:

The higher court wrote that "this case involves the sanctity of the home-a bedrock of the Fourth Amendment and an area where a person should enjoy the highest reasonable expectation of privacy". The court held that Rodriguez's consent was coerced and invalid. But in the first place, Rodriguez never should have let the police into his home in the first place. Luckily, the Court believed that he had been coerced. But this could have gone the other way. If the police show up at your door and want to search your home, ask them to see a search warrant. If they don't have one, make them go get one.

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