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Commonwealth v. Lehnerd

Pennsylvania Superior Court

April 5, 2022

The Pennsylvania Superior Court invalidated mom’s consent to search her son’s house. The defendant flipped his truck and then asked the people at a property nearby if he could use their phone to call his parents to pick him up. They did so and dropped the defendant off at his house. When the parents went back to the scene of the overturned vehicle, state troopers were there. The people, who allowed the defendant to call his parents, also called the police, telling them that the defendant reeked of alcohol. Mom agreed to take the troopers to the defendant’s house, where the troopers knocked on the door but received no answer. Then mom, who did not live at the defendant’s home, let the troopers inside, where they arrested the defendant for suspicion of DUI. He moved to suppress the evidence obtained after the troopers entered his house “on the ground that the warrantless entry into the house and escorting him out of the house constituted an illegal seizure.” The trial court denied the motion. The Superior Court reversed. The Court offered a robust review of the caselaw on the voluntary consent exception to the warrant requirement. The Court then held that “the uncontradicted evidence precluded any finding that the troopers could reasonably believe that the defendant’s mother had authority to let them into his house.”

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