Judge Rules ‘Friends With Benefits’ Have Same Rights As A Couple
A judge has ruled that ‘friends with benefits’ have the same rights as a couple when it comes to house searches in the US.
While most people would insist a ‘friends with benefits’ status is strictly casual, a judge has ruled it gives the same legal protection as being Facebook official and looking for furniture in Ikea.
Najee Brantley was arrested in 2018 for narcotics and firearms offences. At the time of his arrest, he reportedly had 107 vials of heroin and a gun on his person. Despite numerous warrants for his arrest on similar charges, Brantley may not be charged for this particular incident.
The police had a warrant for Brantley’s arrest but did not have one to search his home. However, the police made an arrest and search in his close friends’ home. This also led to the arrest of the owner of the property, Bahjane Reels, for ‘hindering apprehension’.
These charges may not go ahead because the arrest and search break the protections of the Fourth Amendment. The amendment guards against searches of personal goods inside a person’s home without a warrant. While Brantley wasn’t home, a judge has ruled that a ‘friend with benefits’ falls into the category of an ‘overnight guest’. In this instance, that gives casual affairs the same legal rights as couples.
Judge Susan D. Wigenton has found Brantley’s home rights extended to his friend’s apartment and, as a result, the search was not legal.
The New Jersey judge explained:
This court accepts that the defendant was more than a short-term guest at Ms Reel’s apartment and thus had standing to challenge any subsequent warrantless search of his belongings.
To the extent that the Government suggests that the defendant’s ‘friends with benefits’ relationship categorically fails to merit the protection of an ‘overnight guest.’
Both Brantley and Reels have maintained that their relationship was ‘casual’ and Brantley had only stayed over once before throughout legal proceedings. Court transcripts obtained by MailOnline recorded Reels saying, ‘Me and him haven’t been talking and he hit me up saying that, um, he needed somewhere to stay.’ She added, ‘Me being the person that I am, I told him come on.’
When the police arrived at Reel’s property on the back of an anonymous tip about Brantley’s whereabouts, the close friends were seemingly caught by surprise. Reels answered the door, and the police went into the bedroom and found Brantley under the bed. Once they arrested Brantley they asked him if he had clothes. When an officer picked up Brantley’s black sweatpants and T-shirt they reportedly found a Gucci fanny pack containing the drugs and the gun.
Since the incident in 2018, Brantley has remained in prison; his trial was set for April last year but was delayed due to the pandemic.
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