The Iowa Supreme Court has thrown out a drug conviction for a Sioux City man saying they did not get the needed search warrant for his rented room. Sioux City police stopped two men for a seatbelt violation and found their car had a strong smell of pot.
The two men told officers they were heading to a home to buy more pot and gave officers the address. Police obtained a search warrant and raided the home that was occupied by four men. The initial search turned up five pounds of marijuana in the basement, another pound in a bedroom, and $14,000s in cash.
The search also found a small amount of marijuana in a bedroom occupied by Joshua Flemming. Officer found an insurance paper indicating that Flemming lived at the home, but they did not question him about what they found.
Flemming sought to suppress the evidence found in the search saying he rented the room for $375, had exclusive possession of the room and the warrant officers used did not extend to his room. The district court said the warrant did include Flemming’s room and he was found guilty of possession of marijuana.
The Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling, but the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that Flemming had exclusive possession to his room and did not allow the owner of the room access without his consent, so Flemming had a “reasonable expectation of privacy in his bedroom.” The court says a warrant would be required by police to enter Fleming’s bedroom.
See the complete ruling here: Flemming ruling PDF