Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, January 24, 2014

Yeary: Consent to search in pretrial detention order is voluntary

In U.S. v. Yeary, No. 11-13427 (Jan. 22, 2014), the Court affirmed multiple drug-trafficking and gun possession convictions, a sentence of 1,092 months, and rejected the argument that a warrantless search of a home was non-consensual and therefore in violation of Fourth Amendment. After an arrest on felony charges, a Florida state judge ordered that Yeary be detained under in-house arrest. The conditions of his in-house arrest provided that Yeary agreed to warrantless searches of his house, at any time of day or night, without prior notice. Acting on an anonymous tip, police went to Yeary’s house while he was under in-house arrest, and conducted a warrantless search that yielded dugs, a firearm, and ammunition. The Court concluded that Yeary had consented to the search of his residence in his house-arrest agreement, and that this consent was voluntary. The Court noted that, in light of Yeary’s criminal history, his risk of flight, and his threat to kill his ex-girlfriend, it was “entirely reasonable” to condition Yeary’s house arrest on his consent to warrantless searches of his residence. [Martin, J., concurring, noted that the Supreme Court has not yet applied the consent doctrine to uphold the search conditioned on an agreement made by a probationer or parolee as a condition to his release from jail. Consequently, Judge Martin would have applied a “totality of the circumstances” test to decide whether the search was valid]