Fernandez v. California, 571 U.S. __, 134 S. Ct. 1126 (Feb. 25, 2014)

Consent to search a home by an abused woman who lived there was valid when the consent was given after her male partner, who objected, was arrested and removed from the premises by the police. Cases firmly establish that police officers may search jointly occupied premises if one of the occupants consents. In Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U. S. 103 (2006), the Court 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, the Court held that Randolph does not apply when the objecting occupant is absent when another occupant consents. The Court emphasized that Randolph applies only when the objecting occupant is physically present. Here, the defendant was not present when the consent was given. The Court rejected the defendant’s argument that Randolph controls because his absence should not matter since he was absent only because the police had taken him away. It also rejected his argument that it was sufficient that he objected to the search while he was still present. Such an objection, the defendant argued should remain in effect until the objecting party no longer wishes to keep the police out of his home. The Court determined both arguments to be unsound.