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Stoner v. California


Officers suspected the defendant had committed a robbery and was presently located in a hotel room. They went to the hotel. The officers had neither search nor arrest warrants. They obtained the consent of the hotel clerk to enter and search the defendant’s room. After doing so, they located evidence of the defendant’s participation in the robbery.


Whether the hotel clerk had the authority to grant consent to search the defendant’s hotel room?


No. The clerk did not have the authority to waive the defendant’s constitutional protection of the Fourth Amendment.


The Court held that it was important to remember it was the defendant’s constitutional right which was at stake here, not the night clerk’s nor the hotel’s. It was a right, therefore, which only Stoner could waive by word or deed, either directly or through an agent. While the night clerk clearly and unambiguously consented to the search, there was nothing to indicate the government had any basis to believe that Stoner authorized the night clerk to allow the officers to search his room.


376 U.S. 483, 84 S. Ct. 889 (1964)

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