The Fourth Department, suppressing the drugs found in defendant’s car and defendant’s related statements, determined the consent to search was not voluntarily given. The officer told the defendant he would be happy to apply for a warrant but defendant would be detained until the warrant was obtained. However, the officer told the defendant, if he consented to the search he would be allowed to leave, even if contraband were found. The officer did not have probable cause to search the car, so his claim he would be happy to procure a warrant was misleading:
… [T]he record establishes that defendant consented to the search of his vehicle with the understanding that, if he refused, the detective would obtain a warrant and search the vehicle anyway, and that in the meantime the vehicle would be detained at the scene. We note that a suspect’s consent to search that is based on threatened action by the police is deemed voluntary only where there are valid legal grounds for the threatened action … . Further, we agree with defendant that the voluntariness of his consent therefore turns on whether the detective could lawfully have obtained a search warrant, which may be issued “only upon a showing of probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur” … .
In our view, the detective did not have probable cause to believe that defendant had committed a crime or that the vehicle contained contraband when defendant consented to the warrantless search, and, thus, the detective’s threat to obtain a search warrant was hollow and misleading. People v Barner, 2023 NY Slip Op 05839, Fourth Dept 11-17-23
Practice Point: If a defendant’s consent to a search is procured by a misleading statement by a police officer, the defendant’s consent is not voluntarily given.