You had some errands to run so you left your house. Your girlfriend often stays with you. She even has a key. Or maybe it was a visiting relative or a housekeeper or someone who watches your child. In any case, the police knocked on your door, and that person agreed to a search. The police found the drugs, and now you are charged with possession/dealing.

Can you get evidence from the search thrown out? After all, the person who consented doesn’t live in your home.

The answer depends on the particular facts of your situation. Illinois law considers how much authority the non-resident had over your home. Is the person more like a neighbor with a key or more like someone who spends a lot of nights? If it’s your girlfriend who has the run of your house, then the search is valid. If it’s a neighbor with a key or a house cleaner, the court would be less likely to uphold their consent. The neighbor or the house cleaner are generally only authorized to invade your privacy to perform their particular purpose. For example, a housekeeper does not have a general right to invade your privacy except as necessary to clean your house. A neighbor with a key is not an invitation to search your drawers.

Illinois courts suppressed a search where a former roommate no longer lived with Defendant even though she sometimes stayed overnight. However, the Court recently upheld the consent of a niece who babysat the defendant’s child and had authority to go into the closet where the cocaine was found.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to see if the search can be overturned and the evidence suppressed. Even if the search is valid, there may be other avenues for your defense. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to search in the first place. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney respected in your courthouse may obtain a better plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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