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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > January 2013 > State v. Jackson, Fifth District Court of Appeals, Nov. 29, 2012

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State v. Jackson, Fifth District Court of Appeals, Nov. 29, 2012

Question: Can peace officers search a parolee’s home without a warrant?
Quick answer: Yes, but only if a parole officer has requested peace officer assistance and reasonable grounds exist to conduct the search.

Facts: Gregory Jackson was placed on parole in 2010 and assigned a parole officer. Law enforcement had recently received a 911 call that a man named Greg, nicknamed “Dirty,” had robbed him at gunpoint. The caller also told the operator that Greg had recently been paroled from prison and he described the suspect’s car, a red Chevy Suburban. The next day, another person called 911 to say that he had just witnessed a man get out of a maroon Chevy Suburban and brandish a handgun, and he knew the man was nicknamed “Dirty.” The caller also gave the license plate number of the Suburban. Both of these tips led to Jackson, so law enforcement contacted Jackson’s parole officer. Police and Jackson’s parole officer met at Jackson’s address. They saw the Chevy Suburban but weren’t sure exactly which house Jackson lived in. They called Jackson and spoke with him and his girlfriend three different times. Jackson eventually tried to flee from the home but was caught by another officer located in the area. Police then searched Jackson’s entire house, finding drugs and a gun. Jackson filed a motion to suppress the evidence based on a lack of probable cause for the police to search.
Why this case is important: The court held that law enforcement’s warrantless search of Jackson’s home was constitutionally valid. Jackson is a parolee, and the U.S. Supreme Court held in Wisconsin v. Griffin that parolees and probationers have a lessened expectation of privacy than a typical person would have. Therefore, probable cause isn’t needed to search a parolee’s home; a parole officer only needs “reasonable grounds” to search, which is the equivalent to reasonable suspicion. Here, reasonable suspicion existed that Jackson had committed a crime and, at a minimum, wasn’t following the terms of his parole. Two 911 calls linked Jackson to an armed robbery and having a handgun in his possession. Law enforcement corroborated the facts that the Chevy Suburban seen by both 911 callers was Jackson’s car and that Jackson’s alias was “Dirty,” so this was enough suspicion for Jackson’s parole officer to justify searching his home without a warrant. Jackson complained that only his parole officer had the right to search the home, not the police, but there is no Fourth Amendment violation when a parole officer requests assistance from law enforcement during a search.
Keep in mind: You don’t need probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of a parolee’s or probationer’s home, only reasonable suspicion. However, this lower level of suspicion applies to a search by a parole officer, not peace officers, but peace officers may assist in a search at the parole officer’s request.
Visit the Fifth District Court of Appeals website to view the entire opinion.