Skip to main content

Draper v. United States, 358 U.S. 307 (1959)


An experienced federal narcotics agent was told by an informer, whose information the agent had always found to be accurate and reliable, that petitioner, whom the agent did not know but who was described by the informer, was peddling narcotics, had gone to Chicago to obtain a supply, and would return on a certain train on a certain day or the day after. The agent met the train, easily recognized petitioner from the informer’s description, and, without a warrant, arrested him, searched him, and seized narcotics and a hypodermic syringe found in his possession. These were later admitted in evidence over petitioner’s objection at the trial at which he was convicted of violating a federal narcotics law.

Held: The arrest, search and seizure were lawful, and the articles seized were properly admitted in evidence at petitioner’s trial. Pp.  358 U. S. 308-314.

(a) Even if the information received by the agent from the informer was “hearsay,” the agent was legally entitled to consider it in determining whether he had “probable cause,” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and “reasonable grounds,” within the meaning of 26 U.S.C. § 7607, to believe that petitioner had committed or was committing a violation of the narcotics laws. Pp.  358 U. S. 310-312.

(b) The information in the possession of the narcotics agent was sufficient to show probable cause and reasonable grounds to believe that petitioner had violated or was violating the narcotics laws and to justify his arrest without a warrant. Pp.  358 U. S. 312-313.

(c) The arrest was lawful, and the subsequent search and seizure, having been made incident to a lawful arrest, were likewise valid. Pp.  358 U. S. 310-311,  358 U. S. 314.

248 F.2d 295, affirmed. 

Page 358 U. S. 308