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Consent, An Exception to the Warrant Requirement

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A person that provides the police with consent to search themselves, their car, or their home has just excused the police from obtaining a warrant.

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By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Federal Crimes Defense Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

Neither the United States Constitution nor the Pennsylvania Constitution precludes a warrantless search of property when consent is given by a person possessing the authority to consent to the search.  Furthermore, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that the greater privacy rights afforded by the Pennsylvania Constitution are sufficiently protected when the federal standard of voluntariness has been met.



What's the test for "voluntariness" of the consent?

 

The following factors favor a finding that consent was voluntary: (1) the defendant's background indicates his understanding of investigating procedures or his understanding of constitutional rights; (2) the suspect has aided an investigation or search; (3) the consenter believed the evidence to be so well concealed that it probably would not be found; (4) the fact of some prior cooperation by the consenter which produced no incriminating evidence; (5) the suspect felt that the best course of conduct was cooperation given that he was caught "red-handed"; (6) the presence of probable cause to arrest or search the suspect.  No one factor in the voluntariness inquiry is controlling.

Remember, if you are ever stopped by the police, do not provide them with consent to search anything.  Even if they tell you they will come back with a warrant- make them.  They don't have to tell you that you don't have to consent

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