Washington Law Review


Alex Chan


In Georgia v. Randolph, the United States Supreme Court announced that third-party consent does not always suffice to immunize the search of a residence from Fourth Amendment attack. Specifically, the Court held that a police search of a residence conducted pursuant to the consent of one occupant, but over the express refusal of a physically present co-occupant with common authority, is unreasonable as to the nonconsenting occupant under the Fourth Amendment. The Court did not indicate whether its holding also extended to searches of personal effects, such as vehicles, conducted pursuant to third-party consent. As a general principle, the Fourth Amendment does not protect an individual's expectation of privacy in his vehicle to the same extent that it does in his residence. Where a search proceeds on the basis of consent, however, the Court analyzes vehicle searches in the same manner as residence searches. Furthermore, Court precedent suggests that a physically present, nonconsenting party with common authority over the property to be searched does not assume the risk that a third party with common authority will permit a search of that property. In light of these considerations, and especially in the absence of evidence of widely shared social expectations to the contrary, this Comment argues that courts should apply the Randolph rule to searches of vehicles conducted pursuant to third-party consent.

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