The defendant was lawfully stopped for a speeding violation. After the officer gave the defendant a verbal warning, the officer asked him if he had any illegal drugs in his car. The defendant said no and gave the officer consent to search the car. The officer found a controlled substance in a film container located inside the automobile.
Whether the officer must inform the detainee that he had a right to leave before attempting to obtain his voluntary consent to search the automobile?
No. Whether the detainee knew that he had a right to leave is only one factor in determining if his consent was voluntary.
The key to all Fourth Amendment issues is whether the officer acted in a reasonable manner. The Court stated that this question is usually answered after reviewing the facts that surround the situation at hand. Therefore, the Court prefers to avoid the establishment of bright-line rules in Fourth Amendment areas. In Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, the Supreme Court rejected a comparable bright-line rule that would have required a consenter to be informed of their right to refuse consent before their choice would be considered voluntary. While a reviewing court should consider whether a detainee knew of his right to leave at the time his consent is requested, the Court did not find this fact alone to be decisive. The voluntariness of consent is to be determined by a consideration of all the circumstances.
519 U.S. 33, 117 S. Ct. 417 (1996)
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