Can a roommate or landlord give police permission to search your home?

You know that in order for law enforcement officers to search your home, they typically must have either your permission or a search warrant. However, what if you share an apartment or house with roommates? Can they consent to a search without your approval?

It depends on the circumstances. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that any resident of a home can refuse to allow police to search without a warrant as long as they’re home at the time. However, if you aren’t home and the police show up, your roommate can invite them to come in and look around.

What about your bedroom?

As far as whether they can enter your bedroom or an area that only you use, that’s a bit fuzzier. Courts have handed down various rulings when it comes to where someone has an “expectation of privacy.” If your bedroom or other area is locked and only you have access to it, that would likely be considered off-limits as opposed to a room that officers could just walk in to.

Can your landlord let the police in?

If you rent an apartment or house, your landlord doesn’t have the right to give officers access to it without a search warrant, unless there’s a reason to believe someone is in danger or there are other exigent circumstances.

If you believe that evidence that’s being used against you was obtained illegally, the best thing to do is tell your attorney immediately. They can determine whether a search was legal and work to get the evidence thrown out if it wasn’t.

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