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Name: United States v. Soriano
Case #: 01-50461
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/15/2003
Subsequent History: None

The defendant challenged as involuntary the consent given by his girlfriend to postal inspectors and LAPD officers to search their motel room for evidence of an altered check. His argument was that since one of the officers who had requested her to sign the consent form had stated that she could be arrested and her children placed in custody if she did not sign. However, the postal inspector corrected this information and told her that they did not currently have grounds to arrest her and take her children. They asked for consent several times over the course of thirty minutes, and the consent form was read to her because she stated that she did not have good reading knowledge of English. They told her they could get a warrant. The Court of Appeals found the denial of the suppression motion by the trial court was not “clear error,” as a review of the criteria supported a finding the consent was voluntary. The girlfriend was not in custody, nor was there a real threat of custody, and she was told that she did not have to sign the form. Normally, the threats to remove children would weigh heavily, but those concerns were less reasonable where one officer had corrected what the other one had said. Judge Berzon dissented.