“I Hear You Knockin’ But You Can’t Come In [At Least While I’m Here]” Fernandez v. California: Third-Party Consent Search After Arrest of Objecting Suspect-Occupant

Does a suspect’s refusal of entry prevent the police from later, in the absence of the objecting occupant, obtaining the consent of an adult co-occupant to enter and search the premises without a warrant? In its recent decision in Fernandez v. California, the United States Supreme Court answered that question in the negative—at least where the police have, in good faith, removed the objecting suspect by arresting him or her. This article reviews the facts of the case, state court proceedings, the US Supreme Court’s opinion, and the gang connection and witness intimidation involved. The article ultimately concludes that the Fernandez decision will facilitate prompt and efficient evidence collection in many crimes involving domestic violence while simultaneously empowering victims to consent to reasonable investigative requests that will facilitate holding their abusers accountable.