If someone on probation is living with you, can their probation officer search every room in the house or just search their living space?

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If someone on probation is living with you, can their probation officer search every room in the house or just search their living space?

My sister-in-law lives with us and is currently in drug court and on probation. What are my rights as the homeowner when they come and search my house? Can they totally trash my house and leave. What areas of my house can they search? Are they allowed to search my kids room or my room? The only places in the house she is allowed are the kids’ bathroom, a hall coat closet for her clothes and things, and the room where she sleeps on the couch. Do the probation officers have to have some kind of respect for my things?

Asked on May 3, 2011 under Criminal Law, Idaho

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

To search a premises, any law enforcement officer needs (1) a warrant, or (2) the permission of a resident. (There are also narrow exceptions for searches conducted exigent to urgent or emergency situations, such as to secure evidence during an arrest, find weapons, locate someone who is injured, unconscious, tied up, etc.)

The problem here is that regardless of where you say your sister in law is allowed to be, the fact is she is living in your home, and apparently not in a separate apartment or unit with it's own access and no (or at least locked up) connection to the rest of your home. As such, the officers can assume that she has access to the whole premises, and if she has given them permission (including as part of her probation), they can search the whole  premises. They are not obligated to take your word for it that a person who lives in your home has only gone into the kid's bathroom, hall closet, and her own room.


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