US v. Rose: Two suspicious packages were intercepted at a FedEx facility in North Carolina. Both were addressed to Ronald West, who was deceased. After it was determined that both packages contained cocaine, they were delivered to their intended address. There, Rose and a codefendant arrived later, picked up the packages, and were eventually arrested after a car chase (and crash). In a Mirandized statement, Rose admitted the packages contained cocaine and he was working for a drug organization based in California. Charged with various drug offenses, Rose moved to suppress the evidence from the two packages. The district court denied the motion, holding that Rose did not have standing to challenge the seizure/search of the packages. Rose was convicted at trial and sentenced to 420 months in prison.
On appeal, a divided Fourth Circuit affirmed the denial of Rose’s motion to suppress. While noting that senders and receivers of packages have an expectation of privacy in them, if a packages is “addressed to a party other than the intended recipient . . . that recipient does not have a legitimate expectation of privacy absent other indicia of ownership, possession, or control existing at the time of the search.” That the fictitious name is an “established alias” could boost that expectation, but that did not apply here as the name used was that of Rose’s confederate’s dead brother. At the time these packages were searched “there was no objective indicia that Rose owned, possessed, or exercised control over the packages” as they were “addressed to a deceased individual at a residence lacking any established connection to Rose.”
Chief Judge Gregory dissented, arguing Rose had proven a legitimate expectation of privacy in the packages, noting that he claimed ownership of them after arrested, that they belonged to him, and were intended for him at West’s address.