When is a Parent’s Authority Apparent? Reconsidering Third Party Consent Searches of an Adult Child’s Private Bedroom and Property
Criminal Justice, Vol. 24, pp. 34-37, Winter 2010
6 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2010 Last revised: 30 Jan 2010
Date Written: January 30, 2010
The question of a parent’s authority to consent to the search of the room or property of a minor child is not difficult. But whether a parent’s consent is enough to satisfy the Fourth Amendment in the search of an adult child’s private bedroom, and the property in that room, is a more difficult question. Some courts have applied a presumption of control to parent-child relationships regardless of the age or situation, while others have recognized that such a presumption is not appropriate in all circumstances.
Because there are different kinds of parent-child relationships and different relationships between parents and their adult child’s private bedroom and closed containers within the parent’s home, this paper argues that courts should not apply a presumption of control between parents and their adult children and require police to develop at least some understanding of the situation before accepting a parent's consent to search an adult child's private room and property.
Keywords: Fourth Amendment, apparent authority, consent, parent-child relationship
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