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Consent to a warrantless search in Maryland

On Behalf of | May 11, 2024 | Criminal Defense

In some instances, the police in Maryland may have grounds to search a person, building, apartment, premises or thing without a warrant. And one of those circumstances occurs when consent is granted.

Who can grant such consent?

The person with a legal, possessory interest in the matter to be searched

Anyone who legally owns, rents or otherwise maintains control of the property to be searched may give consent to a warrantless search. For example, the owner of a property can allow the police to search their premises. However, a landlord may not give consent to a search of a tenant’s premises unless the tenant has abandoned the premises or has been legally evicted.

A parent of a minor child may also consent to the search of premises occupied by the child. Additionally, anyone with custody of another’s personal property belonging may consent to its search if the owner gave them full authority over the property or the owner left the property on their premises without their authorization.

Further, a host may give consent to a search of premises occupied by a guest. However, such consent may not be valid in some circumstances, for example, when a host has a long-term guest.

What about properties owned by multiple people?

If a property is owned or occupied by more than one person, consent from one person may be enough to validate a warrantless search. Property owners should be on the same page before letting the police search their premises or belongings.

Can you revoke the consent?

If, before a search is complete, you change your mind, you can revoke your consent. However, any item evidence collected before the revocation will still be seized and can be used to obtain a search warrant.

If the police want to search your property in a warrantless scenario, get legal guidance to avoid potentially costly mistakes.