Anderson v. Commonwealth – Case Brief Summary (Virginia)

In Anderson v. Commonwealth (1997) 25 Va.App. 565, the defendant entered into a plea agreement pursuant to which he received a suspended sentence and "agreed to waive 'his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures' for one year." (Id. at p. 567.)

Unaware of this waiver, the police conducted a warrantless search of the defendant's person, which was not supported by probable cause.

The Virginia Court of Appeal held that the police officers' lack of knowledge of the waiver did not prevent the use of the waiver to justify the search, reasoning: "Absent a legitimate expectation of privacy, there can be no violation of the Fourth Amendment." (Id. at p. 576.)

The Virginia Supreme Court subsequently affirmed this holding, "finding meritless any contention that the officers' lack of prior knowledge of Anderson's waiver rendered the search invalid." (Anderson v. Commonwealth (1998) 256 Va. 580, 586.)

The Virginia Supreme Court reasoned:

"The waiver expressly states that Anderson agreed to submit his person or property to 'any law enforcement officer.'" (Ibid.)