The Fourth Amendment protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures. Except in certain carefully defined classes of cases, a search of private property without proper consent is unreasonable unless it has been authorized by a valid search warrant. The bottom line is that in most circumstances, the government cannot knock your door down or enter your house without a valid search warrant or your consent. You have a right to say to no and keep the police out of your house.
However, if you give them permission or consent to enter they are free to do so. In State v. Weaver, 349 S.W. 3d 521 (Tex. Crim App. 2011) the court determined that the State exceeded the scope of the consent.
In the case, four police officers came to the defendant, Weaver’s welding shop looking for a person wanted in another county. Mr. Weaver gave the officers consent to search for that person. The officers, over Weaver’s objection, ended up searching a van on his property and finding drugs in it. The trial judge granted Mr. Weaver’s motion to suppress because he found that the search of the van exceeded the scope of Mr. Weaver’s consent. The court of appeals, affirmed. The Court of Criminal Appeals, (Texas’ Criminal Supreme Court) agreed and affirmed the judgment of the trial court and that of the court of appeals.
A person is free to limit the scope of the consent that he gives. If police rely on consent as the basis for a warrantless search, they have no more authority than they have apparently been given by the consent. If the police had either a valid search warrant to search the van or consent to search the van, the drugs would not be suppressed. However, no warrant or permission to search the van existed, therefore the police had no authority to search the van.
The lesson is that you do not have to give the government consent, you can say no or yes to a limited scope and no to a further search. Our founding fathers wrote the fourth amendment to protect us from unreasonable searches. You can always avail yourself of that protection. When you give it up by consenting you may open yourself unwanted prosecution.
If you are someone you know is in need of a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney, call Texas Board Certified Attorney Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.