Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Lawyer

Consent To Search Can Be Revoked

In the Interest of RK, JV 97-2017 (June 8, 2017) an officer responded to the home of the defendant, a juvenile, for a domestic disturbance between the defendant and his mother. The responding officer testified that the dispute was regarding a backpack belonging to the defendant. After asking to search the backpack, the juvenile dumped the bag’s main compartment onto the floor. Thereafter, the officer again asked to search the remaining compartments and, according to his testimony, the juvenile said nothing, but handed over the backpack.

Upon searching the backpack, the officer saw drug paraphernalia before the juvenile grabbed the backpack and told the officer “I never gave that to you.” The officer told the juvenile that it was too late and that he had already seen drug paraphernalia in the bag. Then, the officer regained possession of the backpack so he could continue his search and seizes a marijuana grinder and a pill bottle.

The defendant file a motion to suppress arguing that the officer did not obtain a search warrant to search his bag and that no exception to the search warrant applied. The Commonwealth, not surprisingly, argued that the juvenile consented to the search of the backpack when the defendant handed it to him. The court held that the juvenile did initially consented to the search, but his consent was revoked when he grabbed the bag and indicated to the officer that it was not his intention for the officer to have it. The court acknowledged that the officer did have probable cause to search the bag, but did not find that the exigent circumstances justified further searching the bag without a search warrant.