Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Group

The consent-once-removed doctrine applies to the warrantless entry into a residence by backup officers summoned to assist an undercover officer with making an arrest when they initially entered the home with the permission of someone with authority to consent.

In O’Neill v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Gov’t, the plaintiff granted two undercover officers permission to enter the home. The undercover officers spoke with the plaintiff and then left the residence. The undercover officers returned momentarily with several uniformed officers. The officers then entered the plaintiff’s home without a warrant or consent. Inside the dwelling, the officers seized property but never arrested or intended to arrest anyone.

The consent-once-removed doctrine allows officers to enter a residence to arrest the suspect without a warrant if undercover officers entered with the permission of someone with authority to consent. At that point, the undercover officers established the existence of probable cause to effectuate an arrest or search, and the undercover officers immediately summoned help from other officers. The intent of the entry by the backup officers must be to effectuate an arrest immediately.

The Court’s Ruling on the Consent Once Removed Doctrine

The Court refused to extend the consent-once-removed doctrine to this case because the undercover officers had left the residence, and the backup officers did not rush in to effectuate an arrest, nor did they intend to arrest someone in the home. Essentially, because there was a separation of time between the consent to enter and when the backup officers arrived, the consent-once-removed doctrine did not apply, and the police violated the defendant’s 4th Amendment rights. The judge appropriately suppressed the evidence and dismissed the case.

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