Can a search of a defendant's home and the search of his car be conducted without a warrant?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Williams, 11 Cal.Rptr. 43, 189 Cal.App.2d 29 (Cal. App. 1961):

The entries by the officers into defendant's apartment and the search of Cain's automobile were made without a warrant. It is claimed the searches were illegal. The point [189 Cal.App.2d 38] has no merit. Prior to entering the apartment the officers had reasonable cause to believe defendant and Cain had committed a felony and to arrest them. People v. Vice, 147 Cal.App.2d 269, 274, 305 P.2d 270. The fact that the searches preceded the arrest is of no consequence. People v. Luna, 155 Cal.App.2d 493, 494-495, 318 P.2d 116. Further, the officers obtained the key to the apartment from the manager of the apartment house before entering. In People v. Gorg, 45 Cal.2d 776, 291 P.2d 469, 473, it was held that whether the defendant was in fact a tenant, servant or guest of the owner, the latter had a right to authorize a search when he believed he had at least joint control of the premises; that under such circumstances, the officers were justified in concluding that the owner had the authority he purported to have, and hence there was nothing unreasonable in the officers acting accordingly. The court concluded that the evidence obtained under such circumstances '* * * cannot be excluded merely because the officers may have made a reasonable mistake as to the extent of the owner's authority.' This conclusion was quoted with approval in the later case of People v. Caritativo, 46 Cal.2d 68, 73, 292 P.2d 513. The officers were warranted in believing the manager had a right to authorize their entry into the apartment. The searches were legal.

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