Consent Searches Scope

By Holcomb, Jayme Walker | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Consent Searches Scope


Holcomb, Jayme Walker, The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin


A law enforcement officer asks a woman if she will consent to a search of her luggage for drugs. After the woman consents to the search, the officer finds a sealed can labeled as vegetables that, when shaken, feels as if it contains no liquid. The officer promptly opens the can with a can opener and discovers a white powdery substance, later identified as cocaine, inside. Did the officer exceed the scope of the woman's consent to search by prying open the can?

The Fourth Amendment preserves the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." (1) The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that a search conducted pursuant to lawfully given consent is an exception to the warrant and probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment. However, because a consensual search of an item or location is still a search, the Fourth Amendment reasonableness requirement still applies. (2)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

This article considers the question of whether the officer's opening of the can in the example violated the Fourth Amendment. The article also addresses the standard that courts apply in determining the scope of a consent search, officer statements and actions that impact upon scope, subject statement and actions that impact upon scope, and scope-related issues, such as reasonableness and the damaging or destruction of property during a consent search.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Standard

The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue of the scope of a consent search in the 1991 decision Florida v. Jimeno. (3) In Jimeno, an officer overheard Jimeno apparently arranging a drug transaction over a public telephone. The officer followed Jimeno's car and pulled him over after observing him commit a traffic violation. The officer told Jimeno he had reason to believe that Jimeno had narcotics in his car. The officer asked for consent to search Jimeno's car. Jimeno consented to the search. The officer found a folded brown paper bag on the passenger side floorboard. The officer picked up the bag, looked inside, and found a kilogram of cocaine.

The Court specifically addressed the question of whether consent to search a vehicle may extend to closed containers located in the vehicle and stated:

    The touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness. The Fourth
    Amendment does not proscribe all state-initiated searches and
    seizures; it merely proscribes those which are unreasonable. Thus,
    we have long approved consensual searches because it is no doubt
    reasonable for the police to conduct a search once they have been
    permitted to do so. The standard for measuring the scope of a
    suspect's consent under the Fourth Amendment is that of "objective"
    reasonableness--what would the typical reasonable person have
    understood by the exchange between the officer and the suspect? (4)

In holding that Jimeno's general consent to search the car included consent to search the paper bag, the Court found it important that the officer said he was looking for narcotics and that Jimeno placed no explicit limitation on the search. The Court rejected the argument that police should have to separately ask permission to search each closed container within a car under such circumstances. However, the Court distinguished Jimeno from another case decided by the Supreme Court of Florida where that court held that consent to search a car trunk did not include prying open a locked briefcase in the trunk, stating that

    It is very likely unreasonable to think that a suspect, by
    consenting to the search of his trunk, has agreed to the breaking
    open of a locked briefcase within the trunk, but it is otherwise
    with respect to a closed paper bag. (5)

As stated by the Court, the standard for measuring the scope of a person's consent to a search is one of objective reasonableness. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Consent Searches Scope
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.