Alex G. Myers

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In the modern era of criminal investigations, law enforcement officers use many tactics from their bag of tricks to catch criminals. One such tactic, deception, has long been used to lull suspects into a false sense of security. Another tactic, voluntary consent, is widely used to gain permission to search suspects or their premises. While such tactics are prevalent, they must not run into conflict with the United States Constitution. Specifically, the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated." Yet how can the use of deception be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment to gain voluntary consent? At the heart of United States v. Spivey lies the intersection of deception and voluntary consent. Specifically, "whether deception by law enforcement necessarily renders a suspect's consent to a search of a home involuntary" was the key consideration of the opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The court of appeals answered the question in the negative. Consequently, the court significantly broadened the approval for law enforcement officers to use deception to gain voluntary consent.