The constable has lied, not blundered

United States v. Rush, No. 14-4695 (4th Cir. Dec. 21, 2015).

Bodiam Castle, Sussex: warrant needed for entry. (credit: flickr / Phillip Capper)

Bodiam Castle, Sussex: warrant needed for entry. (credit: flickr / Phillip Capper)

With few exceptions, the police can’t enter your home, and they certainly can’t search it, without a warrant. Of course, the police can enter and search your home if you consent to it. But because your home is your castle, this exception for consensual searches is somewhat narrow. The consent must be voluntary. And the consent requirement applies even if you don’t own or rent the place. It also applies if you share living quarters with somebody else—the police can’t search those quarters if you object

Here, defendant Kenneth Rush was a guest in somebody else’s apartment. The renter gave the police a key, and when the police entered, they put Rush in handcuffs—and then lied to him, telling him they had a search warrant for the apartment, when they had no such thing. Not surprisingly, Rush didn’t object to the search, which turned up evidence of drug dealing. 

Clearly the police violated the Fourth Amendment. The police lacked a warrant, and Rush didn’t voluntarily consent to the entry and search. But a Fourth Amendment violation doesn’t always require the unlawfully seized evidence to be suppressed. Should the evidence here be suppressed?

Surprisingly, the district court said no. The Fourth Circuit, on the other hand, emphatically says yes. True, the courts don’t suppress evidence that’s seized unlawfully but in good faith. But a deliberate lie is, by definition, not made in good faith. The police here seized evidence through a deliberate lie, so the evidence must be suppressed.