State v. Byseem Coles

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Byseem Coles, whose room was searched without a warrant. Mr. Coles was stopped on his way home by police officers who were looking for a robbery suspect who was wearing similar clothing to Mr. Coles. The police detained Mr. Coles while they proceeded to question him about his whereabouts and whether or not anyone at his home, which was six houses away, could identify him. While Mr. Coles was being held in the car the police officer proceeded to Mr. Coles’ home and asked if he could search Mr. Coles’ room. Mr. Coles’ aunt and landlord granted the request, however, the search was still illegal. The permission granted by the aunt and landlord was not suffficient to allow the police to conduct a warrantless search because a landlord cannot generally provide consent to search tenants' bedrooms. The ACLU-NJ argued that Coles’ aunt lacked the authority to provide consent to search his room. The supreme court of New Jersey held that the aunt and landlord's consent to conduct a warrantless search of a defendant’s living space is insufficient to justify the search when the defendant is unlawfully detained by police.


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