SW Legal studies in Business

No Expectation of Privacy in Hotel Room Past Checkout Time
Description Appeals court upheld conviction for drug possession of couple who stayed in hotel room past checkout time, despite having been reminded. The police, requested by the hotel to assist in eviction, saw drugs in the open when they entered the room after checkout time. The expectation of privacy in the hotel room had been lost.
Topic Criminal Law
Key Words Expectation of Privacy; Hotels
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Gomes checked into a hotel registering herself and Dorais. When five days were up, they decided to stay longer and were assigned to another room, where they stayed for three more days. A hotel manager reported suspicions about the couple to the police. The police informed him that Gomes had a criminal record, but did not reveal that they were the subject of a drug investigation. The day they were checking out of the hotel, the police asked the hotel if they could search the room after check out, and the hotel said yes. Gomes left, but Dorais stayed in the room past the noon check out time. The hotel requested the police to help evict him, which was done at 12:40 pm. Upon entering the room, the police saw drugs. Dorais and Gomes were arrested and convicted. They moved to suppress the evidence on the grounds that their expectation of privacy in the hotel room had been violated. The trial court rejected the motion; they appealed their conviction.
Decision Affirmed. A defendant's expectation of privacy in a hotel room generally expires at checkout time, but other factors may be taken into account, such as normal extensions past checkout time and other relevant facts. Gomes had left the room before noon, so she no longer had any expectation of privacy regarding the room. Dorais was called at 10 am and reminded of the noon deadline, so he was on notice. The hotel was within its rights to have the police assist in an eviction of Dorais, who knew he had been expected to leave.
Citation U.S. v. Dorais, 241 F.3d 1124 (9th Cir., 2001)

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