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Name: U.S. v. King
Case #: 11-10182
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/27/2013

Suspicionless search conducted pursuant to search condition of violent felon’s probation does not violate Fourth Amendment. As part of a homicide case, police investigated King. They learned he was on felony probation for spousal battery in San Francisco and subject to warrantless searches. Police searched King’s house and found a shotgun under his bed. King’s motion to suppress evidence was denied and he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun under federal law. He appealed the denial of his suppression motion. Held: Affirmed. As a probationer, King has a “lower expectation of privacy than is enjoyed by a citizen who is not subject to a criminal sanction.” This expectation was further diminished by the warrantless search term of King’s probation. Therefore, the search intruded on King’s “legitimate expectation of privacy only slightly.” Weighed against this intrusion is the government’s substantial interest in discovering criminal activity, reducing recidivism, and supervising probationers. The court did not decide whether its analysis would apply to probationers who did not accept a search term of probation or who were lower level offenders (i.e., not violent felons), but subject to a search term. [Editor’s Note: Judge Berzon dissented, stating the specific language of King’s search condition provided for searches without probable cause, not for searches without reasonable, or any, suspicion. In addition, while a probationer’s status diminishes his expectation of privacy, King’s interest is not so small as to permit suspicionless searches, especially of his home.]