LA2: Search of nonparole roommate’s room required PC and SW

There is risk of a nonparolee roommate to parole searches of their common area. Once a search can occur, however, the rights of the roommate not on parole have to be respected. A search of the roommate’s room requires probable cause and a warrant. State v. Jackson, 2024 La. App. LEXIS 335 (2d Cir. Feb. 28, 2024):

We find that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress as it relates to the firearms that were not in plain view in the common area of Jackson’s home. The record establishes that Officer Cone was lawfully in Jackson’s home to conduct a visit with her parolee, Hughes, who had provided Jackson’s address as his residence. Officer Cone immediately observed the marijuana candy when she entered the home and testified that its incriminating character was immediately apparent based on her experience in law enforcement. Because the contraband was observed in the common area, and she was in the home to perform her duties of supervising Hughes, she clearly had a lawful right of access to the contraband that she immediately encountered. She also was vested with the authority to search the immediate area to ensure her own safety as well as that of those in her charge.

However, Officer Cone did not have the authority to search the entire premises of Jackson’s home once she observed the contraband in the common area. Officer Cone was only able to lawfully search the common area and any rooms that were private to her parole supervisee, Hughes. Further, Officer Cone did not err in placing Jackson under arrest in the common area of the home, due to his verbal confirmation in her opinion that the marijuana she observed in plain view belonged to him. A search incident to Jackson’s lawful arrest was also warranted, in order to remove any weapon Jackson may have had on his person or in his wing span, and to prevent the concealment or destruction of evidence. We are bound by law and jurisprudence, however, to find that the search incident to Jackson’s lawful arrest for the commission of the drug crime in the common area of his home, absent exigent circumstances, did not allow the search to extend to his bedroom and other areas of the private home.

We acknowledge that according to Officer Cone’s testimony, Jackson admitted to having firearms in the home. At that point, Officer Cone had sufficient probable cause to obtain a search warrant for the entire premises. …

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