My boyfriend had his own house which his PO knew about and visited and searched regularly, but he stayed over to my house some nights, didn't have any personal belongings there except for a car that wasn't running locked in the garage. His PO text him and told him he was headed to his house, and to meet him there so they could talk. As my boyfriend was getting into his car to head home, his PO was waiting in my driving with the local PD. They then told me they had been watching my biyfriend and they saw that he stayed at my house for three consecutive nights, which gave them the right to search my property which they did. They had no search warrant when I asked, he just kept telling me that because my boyfriend was on probabtion and he slept at my house for the past three nights that they had the right to search my house and property. Long story short, they searched, found some things, not on him, but on my property (confiscated them but didn't charge either of us with what they found) and arrested him and he is in jail pending probation violation. Was this legal?
Possibly. It will require more research and investigation into the facts. In the leading case of United States v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112 (2001), the Supreme Court upheld the warrantless search of Knights' apartment, supported by reasonable suspicion and authorized by a probation condition, satisfied the Fourth Amendment. However, the distinction in your inquiry is that the warrantless search approved by the Supreme Court was conducted on Knights' residence, and not on some other person's residence. The Supreme Court noted: "Knights' status as a probationer subject to a search condition informs both sides of that balance. "Probation, like incarceration, is `a form of criminal sanction imposed by a court upon an offender after verdict, finding, or plea of guilty.' " [citation omitted] Probation is "one point . . . on a continuum of possible punishments ranging from solitary confinement in a maximum-security facility to a few hours of mandatory community service." 483 U. S., at 874. Inherent in the very nature of probation is that probationers "do not enjoy `the absolute liberty to which every citizen is entitled.' "
In light of the clear directive of the Knights case, your boyfriend has a diminished or greatly limited right to privacy as a probationer; the nexus of the question is whether you, as a private citizen who knowingly accepted a probationer into your residence for an overnight stay, have the full protections of the Fourth Amendment or a lesser expectation of privacy. As a general statement, a search on a non-involved person will require a search warrant to enter the dwelling. However, there are possible exceptions to this general rule to include "hot pursuit" "public safety" and other recognized exceptions, although your statement does not seem to indicate such an exception. Your best course of action is to retain the best criminal defense lawyer that you can afford and seek legal counsel.
Sorry to hear about this situation. As Mr. Mahaney pointed out, this is a tricky situation. Whether the search of your house was legal is somewhat of an open question in Alabama. You should speak with a criminal defense attorney in your area to see what you could do about this search.
Disclaimer: No attorney client privilege is established by receiving an answer to your question on Avvo. This answer is provided for informational purposes only. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to visit my Avvo profile or website to set up an appointment to talk more about your issue. As required by Rule 7.2(e), Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, no representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on their profile in addition to the information we collect from state bar associations and other organizations that license legal professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do not.What determines Avvo Rating?Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline