A magistrate issued a warrant for Glen’s arrest based on a robbery and when police attempted to execute the warrant at the address listed on the warrant, the residents of that address gave the police a different address where they could find Glen. When the police knocked on the door of the new address, which belonged to Glen’s grandparents, Glen answered the door. The police immediately arrested Glen and read him the Miranda warnings. The police then entered the home and asked Glen’s grandfather, Mr. Brooks, if he owned the home. Mr. Brooks said that he did and that Glen lived with him but did not pay rent. Mr. Brooks gave the police permission to search Glen’s room. The police did not get Glen’s permission to search his room but he did tell the police which rooms he had slept in. In one of those bedrooms, the police found a backpack that had no clear indicators of who owned it (like a monogram or nametag) and was unlocked. The police searched the backpack and found evidence of the robbery. Glen admitted that the backpack was his and claimed that he found the evidence.
What Amendment is at issue here? [The 4th Amendment]
What does the 4th Amendment protect? [The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.]
What does that mean for police officers? [It means that a police officer may not conduct a warrantless search of a place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy without probable cause or consent to search.]
What do you think the Court held in this case? Could the police officer search the backpack? [The Supreme Court of Virginia held that Mr. Brooks could consent to the search of his house – even the spaces occupied by Glen – because he was the homeowner. The Court concluded that even though Mr. Brooks did not have actual authority to consent to the search of the backpack, he had apparent authority to do so. Apparent authority exists when, in light of all of the circumstances, the facts available to the police at the time of the search would lead a reasonable police officer to believe that the third party, in this case Mr. Brooks, had authority to consent. Because the backpack had no indication of who owned it on it and was in a place open to all occupants of the house, the Court concluded that Mr. Brooks had apparent authority to consent.]