throbber
(Slip Opinion)
`
`
`
` OCTOBER TERM, 2013
`
`
`Syllabus
`
`1
`
` NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
`
`
`
` being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
`
`
`
` The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
`
` prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
`
` See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
`
`
`SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
`
`
`
` Syllabus
`
` FERNANDEZ v. CALIFORNIA
`
`CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEAL OF CALIFORNIA,
`
`
`
`SECOND APPELLATE DISTRICT
`
`No. 12–7822. Argued November 13, 2013—Decided February 25, 2014
`Police officers observed a suspect in a violent robbery run into an
`apartment building, and heard screams coming from one of the
`apartments. They knocked on the apartment door, which was an-
`swered by Roxanne Rojas, who appeared to be battered and bleeding.
`When the officers asked her to step out of the apartment so that they
`
`could conduct a protective sweep, petitioner came to the door and ob-
`jected. Suspecting that he had assaulted Rojas, the officers removed
`petitioner from the apartment and placed him under arrest. He was
`then identified as the perpetrator in the earlier robbery and taken to
`the police station. An officer later returned to the apartment and, af-
`ter obtaining Rojas’ oral and written consent, searched the premises,
`where he found several items linking petitioner to the robbery. The
`trial court denied petitioner’s motion to suppress that evidence, and
`he was convicted. The California Court of Appeal affirmed. It held
`that because petitioner was not present when Rojas consented to the
`search, the exception to permissible warrantless consent searches of
`jointly occupied premises that arises when one of the occupants pre-
`sent objects to the search, Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U. S. 103, did not
`apply, and therefore, petitioner’s suppression motion had been
`properly denied.
`Held: Randolph does not extend to this situation, where Rojas’ consent
`was provided well after petitioner had been removed from their
`apartment. Pp. 5–15.
`
`(a) Consent searches are permissible warrantless searches,
`
`Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U. S. 218, 228, 231–232, and are
`
`
`clearly reasonable when the consent comes from the sole occupant of
`the premises. When multiple occupants are involved, the rule ex-
`tends to the search of the premises or effects of an absent, noncon-
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`2
`
`
`
`
`FERNANDEZ v. CALIFORNIA
`
`
`Syllabus
`senting occupant so long as “the consent of one who possesses com-
`mon authority over [the] premises or effects” is obtained. United
`
`States v. Matlock, 415 U. S. 164, 170. However, when “a physically
`present inhabitan[t]” refuses to consent, that refusal “is dispositive as
`to him, regardless of the consent of a fellow occupant.” Randolph,
`547 U. S., at 122–123. A controlling factor in Randolph was the ob-
`
`
`jecting occupant’s physical presence. See, e.g., id., at 106, 108, 109,
`
`114. Pp. 5–9.
`
`
`(b) Petitioner contends that, though he was not present when Rojas
`
`consented, Randolph nevertheless controls, but neither of his argu-
`ments is sound. Pp. 9–14.
`
`
`(1) He first argues that his absence should not matter since it oc-
`curred only because the police had taken him away. Dictum in Ran-
`dolph suggesting that consent by one occupant might not be sufficient
`if “there is evidence that the police have removed the potentially ob-
`jecting tenant from the entrance for the sake of avoiding a possible
`
`objection,” 547 U. S., at 121, is best understood to refer to situations
`in which the removal of the potential objector is not objectively rea-
`sonable. Petitioner does not contest the fact that the police had rea-
`sonable grounds for his removal or the existence of probable cause for
`
`
`his arrest. He was thus in the same position as an occupant absent
`
`
`for any other reason. Pp. 9–10.
`
`
`(2) Petitioner also argues that the objection he made while at the
`threshold remained effective until he changed his mind and withdrew
`it. This is inconsistent with Randolph in at least two important
`ways. It cannot be squared with the “widely shared social expecta-
`tions” or “customary social usage” upon which Randolph’s holding
`was based. 547 U. S., at 111, 121. It also creates the sort of practical
`complications that Randolph sought to avoid by adopting a “formal-
`is[tic]” rule, id., at 121, e.g., requiring that the scope of an objection’s
`duration and the procedures necessary to register a continuing objec-
`tion be defined. Pp. 10–14.
`
`(c) Petitioner claims that his expansive interpretation of Randolph
`would not hamper law enforcement because in most cases where of-
`ficers have probable cause to arrest a physically present objector they
`
`also have probable cause to obtain a warrant to search the premises
`that the objector does not want them to enter. But he misunder-
`stands the constitutional status of consent searches, which are per-
`missible irrespective of the availability of a warrant. Requiring offic-
`
`
`ers to obtain a warrant when a warrantless search is justified may
`interfere with law enforcement strategies and impose an unmerited
`burden on the person willing to consent to an immediate search.
`Pp. 14–15.
`208 Cal. App. 4th 100, 145 Cal. Rptr. 3d 51, affirmed.
`
`
`
`
`
`
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`
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`
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`

`
`
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` Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`
`Syllabus
` ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J.,
`
`
`and SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, and BREYER, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., and
`
`
`
`
` THOMAS, J., filed concurring opinions. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting
`
`
`
`
`opinion, in which SOTOMAYOR and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
`
`
`3
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`
`
`
`

`
`
`
`Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`
`Opinion of the Court
`
`1
`
`
` NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the
`
`
`
` preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to
`
` notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash-
`
` ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order
`
`
` that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
`
`
`
`
`SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
`
`_________________
`
` No. 12–7822
`_________________
`WALTER FERNANDEZ, PETITIONER v. CALIFORNIA
`ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEAL OF
`
`
`CALIFORNIA FOR THE SECOND APPELLATE DISTRICT
`
`
`[February 25, 2014]
`
` JUSTICE ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court.
`Our cases firmly establish that police officers may
`
`search jointly occupied premises if one of the occupants1
`consents. See United States v. Matlock, 415 U. S. 164
`
`(1974). In Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U. S. 103 (2006), we
`
`recognized a narrow exception to this rule, holding that
`the consent of one occupant is insufficient when another
`occupant is present and objects to the search. In this case,
`we consider whether Randolph applies if the objecting
`occupant is absent when another occupant consents. Our
`opinion in Randolph took great pains to emphasize that its
`holding was limited to situations in which the objecting
`occupant is physically present. We therefore refuse to
`extend Randolph to the very different situation in this
`case, where consent was provided by an abused woman
`
`well after her male partner had been removed from the
`apartment they shared.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`——————
`1We use the terms “occupant,” “resident,” and “tenant” interchangea-
`
`bly to refer to persons having “common authority” over premises within
`
`
`the meaning of Matlock. See United States v. Matlock, 415 U. S. 164,
`171, n. 7 (1974).
`
`
`
`

`
`2
`
`
`
`
`
` FERNANDEZ v. CALIFORNIA
`
`Opinion of the Court
`I
`
`A
`
`The events involved in this case occurred in Los Angeles
`
`in October 2009. After observing Abel Lopez cash a check,
`
`petitioner Walter Fernandez approached Lopez and asked
`about the neighborhood in which he lived. When Lopez
`responded that he was from Mexico, Fernandez laughed
`and told Lopez that he was in territory ruled by the
`“D.F.S.,” i.e., the “Drifters” gang. App. 4–5. Petitioner
`then pulled out a knife and pointed it at Lopez’ chest.
`
`Lopez raised his hand in self-defense, and petitioner cut
`him on the wrist.
`Lopez ran from the scene and called 911 for help, but
`
`petitioner whistled, and four men emerged from a nearby
`apartment building and attacked Lopez. After knocking
`him to the ground, they hit and kicked him and took his
`cell phone and his wallet, which contained $400 in cash.
`A police dispatch reported the incident and mentioned
`
`the possibility of gang involvement, and two Los Angeles
`police officers, Detective Clark and Officer Cirrito, drove
`to an alley frequented by members of the Drifters. A man
`who appeared scared walked by the officers and said:
`“‘[T]he guy is in the apartment.’” Id., at 5. The officers
`then observed a man run through the alley and into the
`building to which the man was pointing. A minute or two
`later, the officers heard sounds of screaming and fighting
`coming from that building.
`
`After backup arrived, the officers knocked on the door of
`the apartment unit from which the screams had been
`heard. Roxanne Rojas answered the door. She was hold-
`ing a baby and appeared to be crying. Her face was red,
`and she had a large bump on her nose. The officers also
`saw blood on her shirt and hand from what appeared to be
`a fresh injury. Rojas told the police that she had been in a
`fight. Officer Cirrito asked if anyone else was in the
`apartment, and Rojas said that her 4-year-old son was the
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
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`
`
`
`
`3
`
`
`Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`only other person present.
`
`
`After Officer Cirrito asked Rojas to step out of the
`apartment so that he could conduct a protective sweep,
`petitioner appeared at the door wearing only boxer shorts.
`
`Apparently agitated, petitioner stepped forward and said,
`
`“‘You don’t have any right to come in here. I know my
`rights.’” Id., at 6. Suspecting that petitioner had assaulted
`Rojas, the officers removed him from the apartment
`and then placed him under arrest. Lopez identified peti-
`tioner as his initial attacker, and petitioner was taken to
`the police station for booking.
`
`Approximately one hour after petitioner’s arrest, Detec-
`tive Clark returned to the apartment and informed Rojas
`that petitioner had been arrested. Detective Clark re-
`
`quested and received both oral and written consent from
`Rojas to search the premises.2 In the apartment, the
`police found Drifters gang paraphernalia, a butterfly
`knife, clothing worn by the robbery suspect, and ammuni-
`tion. Rojas’ young son also showed the officers where
`petitioner had hidden a sawed-off shotgun.
`B
`
`Petitioner was charged with robbery, Cal. Penal Code
`Ann. §211 (West 2008), infliction of corporal injury on a
`
`
`
`
`
`——————
`2Both petitioner and the dissent suggest that Rojas’ consent was
`coerced. Post, at 9, n. 5 (opinion of GINSBURG, J.). But the trial court
`
`
`
`found otherwise, App. 152, and the correctness of that finding is not
`before us. In suggesting that Rojas’ consent was coerced, the dissent
`
` recites portions of Rojas’ testimony from the suppression hearing that
`the trial judge appears to have rejected. Ibid. Similarly, the jury
`plainly did not find Rojas to be credible. At trial, she testified for the
`defense and told the jury, among other things, that the wounds ob-
`served by the officers who came to her door were not inflicted by peti-
`
`
`tioner but by a woman looking for petitioner during a fight. 208 Cal.
`
`App. 4th 100, 109–110, 145 Cal. Rptr. 3d 51, 56 (2012). The jury
`obviously did not believe this testimony because it found petitioner
`guilty of inflicting corporal injury on her.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
`FERNANDEZ v. CALIFORNIA
`
`Opinion of the Court
`
` spouse, cohabitant, or child’s parent, §273.5(a), possession
`of a firearm by a felon, §12021(a)(1)(West 2009), posses-
`sion of a short-barreled shotgun, §12020(a)(1), and felony
`possession of ammunition, §12316(b)(1).
`Before trial, petitioner moved to suppress the evidence
`
`
`found in the apartment, but after a hearing, the court
`denied the motion. Petitioner then pleaded nolo conten-
`dere to the firearms and ammunition charges. On the re-
`maining counts—for robbery and infliction of corporal
`injury—he went to trial and was found guilty by a jury.
`The court sentenced him to 14 years of imprisonment.
`The California Court of Appeal affirmed. 208 Cal. App.
`
`4th 100, 145 Cal. Rptr. 3d 51 (2012). Because Randolph
`did not overturn our prior decisions recognizing that an
`occupant may give effective consent to search a shared
`residence, the court agreed with the majority of the federal
`circuits that an objecting occupant’s physical presence is
`“indispensible to the decision in Randolph.” Id., at 122,
`145 Cal. Rptr. 3d, at 66.3 And because petitioner was not
`——————
` 3See United States v. Cooke, 674 F. 3d 491, 498 (CA5 2012) (“Ran-
`
`dolph was a narrow exception to the general Matlock rule permitting
`
`
`
` cotenant consent, relevant only as to physically present objectors”);
` United States v. Hudspeth, 518 F. 3d 954, 960 (CA8 2008) (concluding
`
`
`that “the narrow holding of Randolph, which repeatedly referenced the
`defendant’s physical presence and immediate objection is inapplica-
`
` ble”); United States v. Henderson, 536 F. 3d 776, 777 (CA7 2008)
`(recognizing that “Randolph left the bulk of third-party consent law in
`place; its holding applies only when the defendant is both present and
`objects to the search of his home”); United States v. McKerrell, 491
`F. 3d 1221, 1227 (CA10 2007) (“Randolph carefully delineated the
`narrow circumstances in which its holding applied, and . . . Randolph
`consciously employed a rule requiring an express objection by a present
`
`co-tenant”); but see United States v. Murphy, 516 F. 3d 1117, 1124–
`
`1125 (CA9 2008) (holding that “when a co-tenant objects to a search
`and another party with common authority subsequently gives consent
`to that search in the absence of the first co-tenant the search is invalid
`as to the objecting co-tenant” because “[o]nce a co-tenant has registered
`his objection, his refusal to grant consent remains effective barring
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`4
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
`5
`
`
`Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`present when Rojas consented, the court held that peti-
`tioner’s suppression motion had been properly denied. Id.,
`at 121, 145 Cal. Rptr. 3d, at 65.
`The California Supreme Court denied the petition for
`
`review, and we granted certiorari. 569 U. S. ___ (2013).
`
`II
`
`
`A
`
`The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches
`
`and seizures and provides that a warrant may not be
`issued without probable cause, but “the text of the Fourth
`Amendment does not specify when a search warrant must
`be obtained.” Kentucky v. King, 563 U. S. ___, ___ (2011)
`(slip op., at 5). Our cases establish that a warrant is
`generally required for a search of a home, Brigham City v.
`Stuart, 547 U. S. 398, 403 (2006), but “the ultimate touch-
`stone of the Fourth Amendment is ‘reasonableness,’” ibid.;
`
`see also Michigan v. Fisher, 558 U. S. 45, 47 (2009) (per
`curiam). And certain categories of permissible warrant-
`less searches have long been recognized.
`
`Consent searches occupy one of these categories. “Con-
`sent searches are part of the standard investigatory
`techniques of law enforcement agencies” and are “a con-
`
`stitutionally permissible and wholly legitimate aspect of
`effective police activity.” Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412
`
`U. S. 218, 228, 231–232 (1973). It would be unreasonable—
`indeed, absurd—to require police officers to obtain a war-
`rant when the sole owner or occupant of a house or apart-
`ment voluntarily consents to a search. The owner of a
`home has a right to allow others to enter and examine the
`premises, and there is no reason why the owner should not
`be permitted to extend this same privilege to police officers
`if that is the owner’s choice. Where the owner believes
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`——————
`
`some objective manifestation that he has changed his position and no
`
`
`longer objects”).
`
`
`
`
`

`
`6
`
`
`
`
`FERNANDEZ v. CALIFORNIA
`
`Opinion of the Court
`that he or she is under suspicion, the owner may want the
`police to search the premises so that their suspicions are
`dispelled. This may be particularly important where the
`owner has a strong interest in the apprehension of the
`perpetrator of a crime and believes that the suspicions of
`the police are deflecting the course of their investigation.
`An owner may want the police to search even where they
`lack probable cause, and if a warrant were always re-
`
`quired, this could not be done. And even where the police
`could establish probable cause, requiring a warrant de-
`spite the owner’s consent would needlessly inconvenience
`everyone involved—not only the officers and the magis-
`trate but also the occupant of the premises, who would
`generally either be compelled or would feel a need to stay
`
`until the search was completed. Michigan v. Summers,
`452 U. S. 692, 701 (1981).4
`
`While it is clear that a warrantless search is reasonable
`
`when the sole occupant of a house or apartment consents,
`what happens when there are two or more occupants?
`Must they all consent? Must they all be asked? Is consent
`by one occupant enough? The Court faced that problem 40
`years ago in United States v. Matlock, 415 U. S. 164
`(1974).
`In that case, Matlock and a woman named Graff were
`
`
`living together in a house that was also occupied by several
`
`of Graff ’s siblings and by her mother, who had rented
`
`the house. While in the front yard of the house, Matlock
`was arrested for bank robbery and was placed in a squad
`car. Although the police could have easily asked him for
`——————
`4A main theme of the dissent is that the police in this case had prob-
`able cause to search the apartment and therefore could have obtained a
`warrant. Of course, this will not always be so in cases in which one
`occupant consents to a search and the other objects, and the dissent
`does not suggest that a warrant should be required only when probable
`cause is present. As a result, the dissent’s repeated references to the
`availability of a warrant in this case are beside the point.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`7
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
` Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`consent to search the room that he and Graff shared, they
`did not do so. Instead, they knocked on the door and
`obtained Graff ’s permission to search. The search yielded
`incriminating evidence, which the defendant sought to
`suppress, but this Court held that Graff ’s consent justified
`the warrantless search. As the Court put it, “the consent
`of one who possesses common authority over premises or
`effects is valid as against the absent, nonconsenting per-
`son with whom that authority is shared.” Id., at 170.
`In Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U. S. 177 (1990), the Court
`reaffirmed and extended the Matlock holding. In Rodri-
`
`guez, a woman named Fischer told police officers that she
`had been assaulted by Rodriguez in what she termed “‘our’
`apartment.” 497 U. S., at 179. She also informed the
`officers that Rodriguez was asleep in the apartment, and
`she then accompanied the officers to that unit. When they
`arrived, the officers could have knocked on the door and
`awakened Rodriguez, and had they done so, Rodriguez
`might well have surrendered at the door and objected to
`the officers’ entry. Instead, Fischer unlocked the door, the
`
`officers entered without a warrant, and they saw drug
`paraphernalia and containers filled with white powder in
`plain view.
`
`After the search, the police learned that Fischer no
`longer resided at the apartment, and this Court held that
`she did not have common authority over the premises at
`the time in question. The Court nevertheless held that
`the warrantless entry was lawful because the police rea-
`sonably believed that Fischer was a resident. Id., at 188–
`189.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`B
`
`While consent by one resident of jointly occupied prem-
`ises is generally sufficient to justify a warrantless search,
`we recognized a narrow exception to this rule in Georgia v.
`Randolph, 547 U. S. 103 (2006). In that case, police offi-
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
`
`
`8
`
`
`
` FERNANDEZ v. CALIFORNIA
`
`Opinion of the Court
`cers responded to the Randolphs’ home after receiving a
`report of a domestic dispute. When the officers arrived,
`Janet Randolph informed the officers that her estranged
`husband, Scott Randolph, was a cocaine user and that
`there were “items of drug evidence” in the house. Id., at
`107 (internal quotation marks omitted). The officers first
`asked Scott for consent to search, but he “unequivocally
`refused.” Ibid. The officers then turned to Janet, and she
`consented to the search, which produced evidence that was
`later used to convict Scott for possession of cocaine.
`Without questioning the prior holdings in Matlock and
`
`Rodriguez, this Court held that Janet Randolph’s consent
`was insufficient under the circumstances to justify the
`warrantless search. The Court reiterated the proposition
`that a person who shares a residence with others assumes
`the risk that “any one of them may admit visitors, with
`the consequence that a guest obnoxious to one may never-
`theless be admitted in his absence by another.” 547 U. S.,
`at 111. But the Court held that “a physically present
`inhabitant’s express refusal of consent to a police search
`[of his home] is dispositive as to him, regardless of the
`consent of a fellow occupant.” Id., at 122–123 (emphasis
`added).
`
`The Court’s opinion went to great lengths to make clear
`that its holding was limited to situations in which the
`objecting occupant is present. Again and again, the opin-
`
`ion of the Court stressed this controlling factor. See id., at
`106 (“present at the scene”); ibid. (“physically present”);
`
`id., at 108 (“a co-tenant who is present”); id., at 109
`(“physically present”); id., at 114 (“a present and objecting
`
`co-tenant”); id., at 119 (a co-tenant “standing at the door
`and expressly refusing consent”); id., at 120 (“a physically
`present resident”), id., at 121 (“a physically present fellow
`tenant objects”); ibid. (“[A] potential defendant with self-
`interest in objecting is at the door and objects”); id., at 122
`(“[A] physically present inhabitant’s express refusal of
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
` Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`consent to a police search is dispositive as to him”). The
`
`Court’s opinion could hardly have been clearer on this
`point, and the separate opinion filed by JUSTICE BREYER,
`whose vote was decisive, was equally unambiguous. See
`id., at 126 (concurring) (“The Court’s opinion does not
`apply where the objector is not present ‘and object[ing]’”).
`
`III
`
`In this case, petitioner was not present when Rojas
`
`consented, but petitioner still contends that Randolph is
`controlling. He advances two main arguments. First, he
`claims that his absence should not matter since he was
`absent only because the police had taken him away.
`Second, he maintains that it was sufficient that he objected
`to the search while he was still present. Such an objec-
`tion, he says, should remain in effect until the objecting
`
`party “no longer wishes to keep the police out of his home.”
`
`Brief for Petitioner 8. Neither of these arguments is
`
`sound.
`
`
`
`
`
`A
`We first consider the argument that the presence of the
`
`
`objecting occupant is not necessary when the police are
`responsible for his absence. In Randolph, the Court sug-
`gested in dictum that consent by one occupant might not
`be sufficient if “there is evidence that the police have
`removed the potentially objecting tenant from the en-
`trance for the sake of avoiding a possible objection.” 547
`U. S., at 121. We do not believe the statement should be
`read to suggest that improper motive may invalidate
`objectively justified removal. Hence, it does not govern
`here.
`
`The Randolph dictum is best understood not to require
`an inquiry into the subjective intent of officers who detain
`or arrest a potential objector but instead to refer to situa-
`tions in which the removal of the potential objector is not
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`9
`
`
`
`

`
`10
`
`
`
` FERNANDEZ v. CALIFORNIA
`
`Opinion of the Court
`objectively reasonable. As petitioner acknowledges, see
`Brief for Petitioner 25, our Fourth Amendment cases
`“have
`repeatedly
`rejected” a subjective approach.
`Brigham City, 547 U. S., at 404 (alteration and internal
`quotation marks omitted). “Indeed, we have never held,
`outside limited contexts such as an ‘inventory search or
`
`administrative inspection . . . , that an officer’s motive
`invalidates objectively justifiable behavior under the
`
`Fourth Amendment.’” King, 563 U. S., at ___ (slip op.,
`at 10).
`
`Petitioner does not claim that the Randolph Court
`meant to break from this consistent practice, and we do
`not think that it did. And once it is recognized that the
`test is one of objective reasonableness, petitioner’s argu-
`ment collapses. He does not contest the fact that the
`police had reasonable grounds for removing him from the
`apartment so that they could speak with Rojas, an appar-
`ent victim of domestic violence, outside of petitioner’s
`potentially intimidating presence. In fact, he does not
`even contest the existence of probable cause to place him
`under arrest. We therefore hold that an occupant who is
`absent due to a lawful detention or arrest stands in the
`same shoes as an occupant who is absent for any other
`reason.
`
`This conclusion does not “make a mockery of Randolph,”
`as petitioner protests. Brief for Petitioner 9. It simply
`accepts Randolph on its own terms. The Randolph hold-
`ing unequivocally requires the presence of the objecting
`occupant in every situation other than the one mentioned
`in the dictum discussed above.
`B
`
`This brings us to petitioner’s second argument, viz., that
`his objection, made at the threshold of the premises that
`
`the police wanted to search, remained effective until he
`changed his mind and withdrew his objection. This argu-
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`ment is inconsistent with Randolph’s reasoning in at least
`two important ways. First, the argument cannot be
`squared with the “widely shared social expectations” or
`“customary social usage” upon which the Randolph hold-
`
`ing was based. See 547 U. S., at 111, 121. Explaining
`why consent by one occupant could not override an objec-
`
`tion by a physically present occupant, the Randolph Court
`stated:
`
`“[I]t is fair to say that a caller standing at the door of
`
`shared premises would have no confidence that one
`occupant’s invitation was a sufficiently good reason to
`enter when a fellow tenant stood there saying, ‘stay
`out.’ Without some very good reason, no sensible per-
`son would go inside under those conditions.” Id., at
`113.
`
`It seems obvious that the calculus of this hypothetical
`caller would likely be quite different if the objecting tenant
`
`was not standing at the door. When the objecting occu-
`pant is standing at the threshold saying “stay out,” a
`friend or visitor invited to enter by another occupant can
`expect at best an uncomfortable scene and at worst vio-
`lence if he or she tries to brush past the objector. But
`when the objector is not on the scene (and especially when
`it is known that the objector will not return during the
`course of the visit), the friend or visitor is much more
`likely to accept the invitation to enter.5 Thus, petitioner’s
`——————
`5Although the dissent intimates that “customary social usage” goes
`
`further than this, see post, at 4, the dissent provides no support for this
`doubtful proposition. In the present case, for example, suppose that
`Rojas had called a relative, a friend, a supportive neighbor, or a person
`who works for a group that aids battered women and had invited that
`individual to enter and examine the premises while petitioner was in
`jail. Would any of those invitees have felt that it was beyond Rojas’
`authority to extend that invitation over petitioner’s objection?
`Instead of attempting to show that such persons would have felt it
`improper to accept this invitation, the dissent quickly changes the
`
`
`
`
`11
`
`

`
`12
`
`
`
`
`FERNANDEZ v. CALIFORNIA
`
`Opinion of the Court
`argument is inconsistent with Randolph’s reasoning.
`
`Second, petitioner’s argument would create the very sort
`
`of practical complications that Randolph sought to avoid.
`The Randolph Court recognized that it was adopting a
`“formalis[tic]” rule, but it did so in the interests of “simple
`clarity” and administrability. Id., at 121, 122.
`
`The rule that petitioner would have us adopt would
`produce a plethora of practical problems. For one thing,
`there is the question of duration. Petitioner argues that
`an objection, once made, should last until it is withdrawn
`by the objector, but such a rule would be unreasonable.
`Suppose that a husband and wife owned a house as joint
`tenants and that the husband, after objecting to a search
`of the house, was convicted and sentenced to a 15-year
`prison term. Under petitioner’s proposed rule, the wife
`would be unable to consent to a search of the house 10
`
`years after the date on which her husband objected. We
`
`refuse to stretch Randolph to such strange lengths.
`
`Nor are we persuaded to hold that an objection lasts for
`a “reasonable” time.
`“[I]t is certainly unusual for this
`Court to set forth precise time limits governing police
`action,” Maryland v. Shatzer, 559 U. S. 98, 110 (2010), and
`
`what interval of time would be reasonable in this context?
`A week? A month? A year? Ten years?
`
`Petitioner’s rule would also require the police and ulti-
`
`mately the courts to determine whether, after the passage
`of time, an objector still had “common authority” over the
`premises, and this would often be a tricky question. Sup-
`pose that an incarcerated objector and a consenting co-
`
`occupant were joint tenants on a lease. If the objector,
`——————
`
`subject and says that “conjectures about social behavior shed little light
`on the constitutionality” of the search in this case. Post, at 4. But the
`
`holding in Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U. S. 103 (2006), was based on
`“widely shared social expectations” and “customary social usage.” See
`
`
`Id., at 111, 121. Thus, the dissent simply fails to come to grips with the
`reasoning of the precedent on which it relies.
`
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`

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` 13
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` Cite as: 571 U. S. ____ (2014)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`after incarceration, stopped paying rent, would he still
`have “common authority,” and would his objection retain
`its force? Would it be enough that his name remained
`on the lease? Would the result be different if the object-
`ing and consenting lessees had an oral month-to-month
`tenancy?
`
`Another problem concerns the procedure needed to
`register a continuing objection. Would it be necessary for
`an occupant to object while police officers are at the door?
`
`If presence at the time of consent is not needed, would an
`occupant have to be present at the premises when the
`objection was made? Could an objection be made pre-
`emptively? Could a person like Scott Randolph, suspect-
`ing that his estranged wife might invite the police to view
`his drug stash and paraphernalia, register an objection in
`advance? Could this be done by posting a sign in front of
`the house? Could a standing objection be registered by
`serving notice on the chief of police?
`
`Finally, there is the question of the particular law en-
`
`forcement officers who would be bound by an objection.
`Would this set include just the officers who were present
`when the objection was made? Would it also apply to
`
`other officers working on the same investigation? Would
`it extend to officers who were unaware of the objection?
`
`How about officers assigned to different but arguably
`related cases? Would it be limited by law enforcement
`agency?
`If Randolph is taken at its word—that it applies only
`when the objector is standing in the door saying “stay out”
`when officers propose to make a consent search—all of
`these problems disappear.
`
`In response to these arguments, petitioner argues that
`Randolph’s requirement of physical presence is not with-
`out its own ambiguity. And we acknowledge that if,

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