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Lewis v. United States


An undercover narcotics agent telephoned the defendant’s home about the possibility of purchasing marijuana. The agent misrepresented his identity to the defendant and was invited to the defendant’s home on two occasions where he subsequently bought marijuana.


Whether the consent granted was voluntary when a government agent, by misrepresenting his identity, is invited into a defendant’s home?


Yes. Where a defendant invites an undercover government agent into his home for the specific purpose of executing a crime, the agent’s misrepresentation of his identity does not offend the Fourth Amendment


The government is entitled to use decoys and to conceal the identity of its agents in the detection of many types of crimes. A rule prohibiting the use of undercover agents in any manner would severely hamper the government in ferreting out those organized criminal activities that are characterized by crimes that involve victims who either cannot or do not protest.

The home is accorded the full range of Fourth Amendment protection. However, when the home is converted into a commercial center to which outsiders are invited for purposes of transacting unlawful business, that business is entitled to no greater protection than if it were carried on in a store, garage, car, or on the street. A government agent, in the same manner as a private person, may accept an invitation to do business and may enter upon the premises as long as it is for the purpose contemplated by the occupant and the entry is not used to conduct a general search for incriminating materials.

In this case, the defendant invited the undercover agent into his home for the purpose of executing a felonious sale of narcotics. The agent did not commit any acts that were beyond the scope of the business, such as conducting a surreptitious search, for which he had been invited into the house. The defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated.


385 U.S. 206, 87 S. Ct. 424 (1966)

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