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Warrantless Search of Parolees and Probationers

August 31, 2017

Warrantless Search of Parolees and Probationers

CaseState of Tennessee v. Janet Michelle Stanfield, Tony Alan Winsett, and Justin Bradley Stanfield

Issue:  When can law enforcement do a warrantless search on probationers and parolees?

Facts:  A probationer, parolee, and another person lived in a house which was searched by police without a warrant. They were arrested for drugs found at the house, and moved to suppress the evidence. The trial court granted the motion and suppressed the evidence.

Appellate Decision:  The intermediate court affirmed. The court first rejected the State’s argument that the parolee consented to a search solely because of his parole status, writing that the search must nonetheless be constitutionally reasonable under the totality of the circumstances pursuant to State v. Turner (Tenn. 2009). Similarly, with respect to the probationer, the court held the officers lacked the reasonable suspicion required to search a person on parole. With respect to the person not on probation or parole, the court rejected the State’s argument that he waived his rights by living with people on probation and parole, as well as the argument that his open bedroom door demonstrated a “shared common authority.”

Review Granted:  July 19, 2017.

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court will affirm and clarify the law in these areas. Simply being on probation and parole does not entirely remove our Fourth Amendment rights.