Officers went to the house of a grandmother to investigate a rape in which her grandson was suspected. The officers falsely asserted that they had a search warrant and the grandmother consented to a search. The officers did not tell her anything about the crime they were investigating or that her grandson was suspected. The officers found a rifle used in the crime.
Whether the grandmother’s consent was voluntarily given if the officers falsely stated that they had a search warrant?
No. Where officers falsely assert that they have a search warrant and then procure “consent,” the consent is invalid.
The government has the burden of proving that consent was freely and voluntarily given. The grandmother’s consent was not voluntarily given because it had been procured through a wrongful claim of authority. A search cannot be justified as lawful on the basis of consent where that consent has been given only after the official conducting the search has wrongfully asserted that he possessed a warrant. When a law enforcement officer claims authority to search a home pursuant to a warrant, they announce in effect that the occupant has no right to resist the search.
391 U.S. 543, 89 S. Ct. 1788 (1968)
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