Mississippi has higher constitutional protections for people who have exclusive possession of a portion of the residence


In 1991, Agent Bobby Grimes and other narcotics officers were investigating drug activity involving Scott Malone. The officers made a controlled buy of LSD from Malone using a cooperating individual named Gary Owens. Within hours of making the controlled buy, the officers obtained a search warrant for the mobile home occupied by Malone.

The search warrant was not directed to Michael Graves, as the officers did not know his name at this point in time, nor did they have probable cause to believe that any other person resided in the mobile home. Informant Owens gave no information concerning Graves, who shared the trailer with Malone.

The search warrant was sworn to by agent Bobby Grimes and pertained to the trailer located on Lot 168, University Hills Trailer Park, and all vehicles parked at this location. Grimes stated that this trailer was occupied and controlled by Scott Malone and that the items searched for were to be LSD and U.S. currency.

MBN executed the warrant and inside the trailer, the officers found Scott Malone, Rusty Yarborough and Michael Graves. A copy of the search warrant was given to Malone. Sergeant Charlie McVey advised all three of their Miranda rights. The agents subsequently learned that Yarborough did not live in the trailer, and allowed him to leave. Graves was forced to remain in the trailer.

Malone was then escorted to his bedroom and told of the drug purchases. He surrendered dosage units of LSD and “buy money” to the agents. McVey asked Malone if he had any more. Malone said, “That’s all I’ve got.” McVey then asked if his roommate had any, and Malone said, “He’s supposed to have some.”

The agents confronted Graves in the trailer “living room” with this information and told him, “You might as well surrender yours, we know you’ve got some.” Graves denied having any at first, but was then told that Malone had informed the agents that he did. Graves stated, “I got it in the closet — it’s in my room in the closet.”

According to Grimes, “We told him to come on and show us where it’s at. He got up, we walked with him into the bedroom, he pointed up to the shelf in the closet and said, ‘It’s up there in the envelope laying in the shelf.’ And I reached up and got it and opened the envelope up and it had two hundred and one (201) dosage units in it.”

According to Grimes, the trailer was shared by both Malone and Graves, with each having separate sleeping quarters. Graves testified that each co-tenant possessed his own separate bedroom. They shared the remainder of the trailer. Graves paid half of the rent and half of the utilities.

The MBN agents testified that they used the authority of the search warrant to seize the LSD from Graves’ room. They did not have his consent.

Graves was convicted of possession of LSD with intent to distribute and sentenced to 10 years. On appeal, he argued that using the search warrant for Malone to search his room was improper. MSC agreed with Graves and remanded this to the trial court to have a hearing on whether there was valid consent in this case.


In Maryland v. Garrison, 480 U.S. 79, 84 (1987), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a warrant which provided for the search of the third floor of a building. Unknown to the police, the third floor separated into two distinct separately occupied apartments. The Court stated an officer’s reasonable failure to appreciate that a valid warrant describes too broadly the premises to be searched does not invalidate the warrant or the search.

However, this court has found that the Mississippi Constitution extends greater protections of an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy than those enounced under Federal law. Where the proof shows that a portion of a residence is in the sole, separate, and exclusive possession of an individual other than the one named by the search warrant, that individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her solely occupied portion.

It is clear that Graves possessed a reasonable expectation of privacy in his solely occupied portion of the house trailer. The mere fact that Graves’ home was a bedroom, under his sole occupation and control, in a trailer shared with a roommate, does not lessen Graves’ constitutional right to be secure in his home.

After learning of his separate occupancy of the bedroom prior to searching it, the officers must have either obtained a new warrant for his separate room or searched the room pursuant to a valid exception to Section 23’s warrant requirement.

This court has set forth numerous exceptions to the requirement of obtaining a valid search warrant. These exceptions include search incident to arrest, search of a vehicle, plain view, stop and frisk, hot pursuit and emergency search, administrative search, and others. Also, a voluntary consent to a search eliminates an officer’s need to obtain a search warrant

The record from the suppression hearing reflects that Officer Bobby Grimes twice stated the search of Graves’ room was based solely upon the search warrant possessed by the officers.

Within this mobile home there existed two “residences.” One was the residence of Scott Malone. It consisted of his room and all the common areas of the mobile home. The other was the residence of Michael Graves. It consisted of his room and all the common areas of the mobile home. The warrant was issued for the express purpose of searching for contraband possessed by Scott Malone in his residence. The officers therefore could have legally searched all common areas of the mobile home and Malone’s room. The officers overstepped their bounds when they used the same search warrant to justify a search of Graves’ room.

This case is remanded to the trial court to have a hearing on whether there was valid consent in this case.