If an officer does not have a warrant, but a person who shows apparent authority allows an officer to search an item or property, the search is legal and called a consent search. Normally, when conducting a search, an officer must get a warrant or meet an exception to the warrant requirement. One such exception is the instant consent search. If the consent is defective, the search is unconstitutional and the fruits of the illegal search will be suppressed.
Allowing the police to search due to threats and badge flashing is not consent. The burden is on the government to show the search was a fully voluntary act. There are no requirements like Miranda warnings. The PA Supreme Court has been consistent in stating consent is an intentional relinquishment of a known right and there must be a reason consent was given. If a defendant is in custody, the courts will apply much greater scrutiny to whether the consent was voluntary. Other factors similar to custody are: how many police were present, were they armed, and were they in uniform?
Police cannot lie in order to gain consent. Stating, “you’d better consent because I already have a warrant,” when you don’t, is not legal. However, stating, “I will go get a warrant so you’s better consent,” is legal.
If the initial stop is illegal and violates the fourth amendment and consent is given after the illegal search, the consent will be suppressed as a fruit of the illegal search. Even if the initial stop is a mere encounter, the police cannot increase the amount of time of the mere encounter to attempt to convince the person to consent to a search.
Remember, apparent authority is the rule: if the person is not the owner of the property, but an objectively reasonable person would have believed that person could give consent, that consent will be valid. A mistake by the police will not create apparent authority and make consent searches valid; mistake is not valid.
Remember, you are not required to consent.