Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court dated November 30, 1995, at 3093 C.D. 1994, Reversing the Order of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole Dated June 6, 1994, at Parole No. 4488-X. JUDGE(S) BELOW: PA Board of Probation and Parole - Commonwealth - DOYLE, KELLEY, NARICK, JJ.
Before: Flaherty, C.j., Zappala, Cappy, Castille, Nigro, JJ. Madame Justice Newman did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Zappala
This appeal presents the issue of whether a parolee who consents to warrantless searches as a condition of parole is entitled to invoke the protections of the Fourth Amendment in a parole revocation proceeding. For the following reasons, we affirm.
The record establishes that on April 2, 1982, Keith M. Scott, Appellee, was sentenced to a ten to twenty year term of imprisonment on his plea of nolo contendere to third degree murder. With an effective date of March 31, 1983, the Department of Corrections calculated the minimum expiration date on Appellee's sentence as March 31, 1993, and the maximum term expiration as March 31, 2003.
On September 1, 1993, Appellee was released on parole subject to enumerated conditions. Condition 5(b) provides that Appellee shall refrain from "owning or possessing any firearms or other weapons." A further provision in the "Conditions Governing Parole/Reparole" states:
I expressly consent to the search of my person, property and residence, without a warrant by agents of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. Any items, in [sic] the possession of which constitutes a violation of parole/reparole shall be subject to seizure, and may be used as evidence in the parole revocation process.
Upon his release from prison, Appellee resided at the home of his mother and stepfather, Patricia and John McDaniel. On February 4, 1994, while at a local diner with Dorothy Hahn, Appellee was arrested by three parole officers pursuant to a warrant issued by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Board) to commit and detain him for technical parole violations. The violations involved parole condition 5(b), with respect to possession of a .22 Magnum revolver on September 4, 1993, and the possession of a 10 millimeter Glock handgun sometime in September of 1993. The violations also concerned parole condition 5(c), which prohibits Appellee from engaging in "any assaultive behavior," and parole condition 7, which states, in part, that Appellee "must not consume alcohol under any condition for any reason." *fn1
Before he was transported to the Monroe County Correctional Facility by Agent Dunham, Appellee gave his keys to Agent Mundro. Dorothy Hahn then drove Appellee's vehicle to his residence and Agents Mundro and Gallo followed. When they arrived, no one was home. Agent Mundro then handed Hahn the key and instructed her to unlock the door. Upon entering the residence, Hahn telephoned Mrs. McDaniel, Appellee's mother. The agents awaited her arrival and, when she returned home, informed her that they were going to conduct a search of Appellee's bedroom. They neither requested nor received consent. Upon request of the agents, Mrs. McDaniel hesitantly directed the agents to the room.
After finding no evidence of a parole violation in Appellee's bedroom, the agents searched the adjacent room, which was used as a sitting room for Mrs. McDaniel. The room contained two small sofas, an ironing board and a television. Agent Mundro found five firearms under one of the sofas. One of the guns was in a zippered shotgun case, while the other four guns were wrapped in a white cloth and secured by electrical tape. The guns were not loaded and no ammunition was found. Agent Mundro also recovered a compound bow and three arrows in a closet in the room. Mrs. McDaniel explained that the firearms belonged to her husband and that Appellee was unaware of their presence.
On March 30, 1994, a parole violation hearing was held before an administrative law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ admitted the evidence resulting from the search of the residence over defense counsel's objection. *fn2 Appellee argued that the agents' conduct violated his right against unreasonable searches and seizures. When asked by the ALJ to explain the legal guidelines established for him to conduct the search, Agent Mundro responded:
Any individual under the supervision of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole can have his residence searched by representatives of the Board with or without the homeowner's permission if this is the parolee or probationer's approved residence. I was merely informing [Appellee's] mother that we were going to search, and I asked her to please show us where his bedroom was. We also have the right to search any common living areas in the residence.
Agent Mundro was also asked whether he had been advised by someone that shotguns and rifles ...