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A roommate can give consent for officers to enter common area of home and officers can enter subject’s bedroom to retrieve weapon

Facts

In 2010, Jeffrey Hill was living at the Aiken Village Apartments in overflow housing for Mississippi State University (MSU). MSU police got a tip that Hill had a weapon at the apartment, which is a violation of MSU on campus policy. When the officers arrived at Hill’s apartment, Hill’s roommate allowed them to enter.

Once the officers were inside, Hill entered the room and spoke with the officers. Out of concern for officer safety, Officer Steve Westbrook asked Hill if there were any weapons in his bedroom, and Hill responded that he had a rifle in his closet. Westbrook and Hill retrieved the weapon together.

Hill was in possession of a World War II Era Russian Mosin Nagant rifle, in working condition, and 440 rounds of ammunition. He was convicted of possession of a firearm on educational property and sentenced to three years. On appeal, he argued that 1) the officer did not have a right to come into his apartment and 2) the officer did not have the right to come into his bedroom closet to retrieve the firearm. MCOA affirmed.

Analysis

Hill argues that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated because university police lacked probable cause or a warrant to enter his apartment. However, the evidence showed that Hill’s roommate invited Detective Westbrook into the apartment. Because Hill’s roommate consented, Westbrook’s presence in the common area was permissible and constitutional.

Once Hill admitted to Westbrook that he had a rifle in his closet, Westbrook clearly was entitled to accompany Hill to the closet to retrieve the rifle, both for his own safety and because possession of the rifle was a crime.

In Washington v Chrisman, 455 U.S. 1 (1982), the U.S. Supreme Court said it is not unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment for a police officer, as a matter of routine, to monitor the movements of an arrested person, as his judgment dictates, following the arrest. Such surveillance is not an impermissible invasion of the privacy or personal liberty of an individual who has been arrested.

 

https://courts.ms.gov/images/Opinions/CO120191.pdf