Law School Case Brief
United States v. Rose - 613 F. App'x 125 (3d Cir. 2015)
To have standing to challenge the search of another person's apartment, a defendant must establish that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the apartment. That requires him to show both that he had a subjective expectation of privacy in the apartment and that his expectation was objectively reasonable. A person who lacks the requisite expectation of privacy and is aggrieved by an illegal search and seizure only through the introduction of damaging evidence secured by a search of a third person's premises or property has not had any of his Fourth Amendment rights infringed.
As part of an investigation of a recent burglary in which a .40 caliber handgun had been stolen, Detective Larry Wagner, together with three other officers, decided to search Apartment 6 located on 340 Cypress Avenue. No search warrant had been obtained because of the concern about the passage of time and the possibility of the firearm being moved. At the time, Brandon Grayson, the apartment’s occupant, was hosting a cookout for his family and friends. During the search, one officer saw Che Rose, one of Grayson’s social guests, leaning out of a window with a revolver in his hand. The officer ordered Rose to drop the gun, but Rose did not comply and instead unsuccessfully attempted to throw the gun onto the roof; it landed on the ground instead. Without any prompting from the officers, Rose proclaimed that the gun was his, and that nobody else was involved. The officers then arrested Rose and seized the .38 caliber revolver he had tried to hide, along with money and crack cocaine concealed on his person. After obtaining a warrant, the police searched Apartment 6 but did not locate the stolen .40 caliber firearm for which they had come. A grand jury returned an indictment charging Rose with distribution of less than 5 grams of crack cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C) and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), among many others. Rose moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of Grayson’s apartment, arguing that as Grayson’s social guest, he had a legitimate expectation of privacy in Grayson’s apartment, and, as a result, he has standing to challenge the search.
Did Rose, who was a social guest in Grayson's apartment, have standing to challenge the legality of the warrantless search of Grayson’s apartment?
The Circuit Court affirmed the distric court's denial of Rose's motion to suppress the fruits of the search of Brandon Grayson's apartment. To have standing to challenge the search of Grayson’s apartment, Rose must establish that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the apartment. The Court held that, based on the circumstances, Rose lacked standing to challenge the warrantless search. The Court noted that based on jurisprudence, an overnight guest in a home may claim the protection of the Fourth Amendment, but one who was merely present with the consent of the householder may not. In the case at bar, records suggested that Rose was a short-term social guest, and not an overnight visitor. As such, he had no possessory interest in any part of the apartment, and more importantly, he did not have permission to be at the apartment without Grayson’s presence or consent. Consequently, Rose lacked a reasonable expectation of privacy in Grayson’s apartment.
As for the applicable standard of review: On appeal from the denial of a motion to suppress, a court of appeals reviews the district court's factual findings for clear error and exercises plenary review over its legal determinations.
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