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Ybarra v. Illinois, 444 U.S. 85 (1979)


On the strength of a complaint for a search warrant based on an informant’s statements that he had observed tinfoil packets on the person of a bartender and behind the bar at a certain tavern and that he had been advised by the bartender that the latter would have heroin for sale on a certain date, a judge of an Illinois state court issued a warrant authorizing the search of the tavern and the person of the bartender for “evidence of the offense of possession of a controlled substance.” Upon entering the tavern to execute the warrant, police officers announced their purpose and advised those present that they were going to conduct a “cursory search for weapons.” The officer who searched the customers felt what he described as “a cigarette pack with objects in it” in his first pat-down of appellant, one of the customers. The officer did not then remove this pack from appellant’s pocket but, after patting down other customers, returned to appellant, frisked him again, retrieved the cigarette pack from his pants pocket, and found inside it six tinfoil packets containing heroin. After appellant was indicted for unlawful possession of a controlled substance, he filed a pretrial motion to suppress the contraband seized from his person at the tavern. The trial court denied the motion, finding that the search had been conducted under the authority of an Illinois statute which empowers law enforcement officers executing a search warrant to detain and search any person found on the premises in order to protect themselves from attack or to prevent the disposal or concealment of anything described in the warrant. Appellant was convicted, and the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed, holding that the Illinois statute was not unconstitutional in its application to the facts of this case.

Held: The searches of appellant and the seizure of what was in his pocket contravened the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Pp.  444 U. S. 90-96.

(a) When the search warrant was issued, the authorities had no probable cause to believe that any person found in the tavern, aside from the bartender, would be violating the law. The complaint for the warrant did not allege that the tavern was frequented by persons illegally purchasing drugs or that the informant had ever seen a patron of the tavern purchase drugs from the bartender or any other person. 

Page 444 U. S. 86

And probable cause to search appellant was still absent when the police executed the warrant; upon entering the tavern, the police did not recognize appellant and had no reason to believe that he had committed, was committing, or was about to commit any offense. The police did possess a warrant based on probable cause to search the tavern where appellant happened to be when the warrant was executed, but a person’s mere propinquity to others independently suspected of criminal activity does not, without more, give rise to probable cause to search that person.  Sibron v. New York, 392 U. S. 40,  392 U. S. 62-63. Although the warrant gave the officers authority to search the premises and the bartender, it gave them no authority to invade the constitutional protections possessed individually by the tavern’s customers. Pp.  444 U. S. 90-92.

(b) Nor was the action of the police constitutionally permissible on the theory that the first search of appellant constituted a reasonable frisk for weapons under the doctrine of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1, and yielded probable cause to believe that appellant was carrying narcotics, thus justifying the second search for which no warrant was required in light of the exigencies of the situation coupled with the ease with which appellant could have disposed of the illegal substance. A reasonable belief that a person is armed and presently dangerous must form the predicate to a pat-down of the person for weapons. Here, the State is unable to articulate any specific fact that would have justified a police officer at the scene in even suspecting that appellant was armed and dangerous. Pp.  444 U. S. 92-93.

(c) The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments will not be construed to permit evidence searches of persons who, at the commencement of the search, are on “compact” premises subject to a search warrant, even where the police have a “reasonable belief” that such persons “are connected with” drug trafficking and “may be concealing or carrying away the contraband.”  Cf. United States v. Di Re, 332 U. S. 581. Pp.  444 U. S. 94-96.

58 Ill.App.3d 57, 373 N.E.2d 1013, reversed and remanded.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined, post, p.  444 U. S. 96. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., and BLACKMUN, J., joined, post, p.  444 U. S. 98. 

Page 444 U. S. 87

Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471 (1963)


In a trial in a Federal District Court without a jury, petitioners were convicted of fraudulent and knowing transportation and concealment of illegally imported heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §174. Although the Court of Appeals held that the arrests of both petitioners without warrants were illegal, because not based on “probable cause” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment nor “reasonable grounds” within the meaning of the Narcotics Control Act of 1956, it affirmed their convictions, notwithstanding the admission in evidence over their timely objections of (1) statements made orally by petitioner Toy in his bedroom at the time of his arrest; (2) heroin surrendered to the agents by a third party as a result of those statements; and (3) unsigned statements made by each petitioner several days after his arrest, and after being lawfully arraigned and released on his own recognizance. The Court of Appeals held that these items were not the fruits of the illegal arrests, and, therefore, were properly admitted in evidence.


1. On the record in this case, there was neither reasonable grounds nor probable cause for Toy’s arrest, since the information upon which it was based was too vague and came from too untested a source to accept it as probable cause for the issuance of an arrest warrant; and this defect was not cured by the fact that Toy fled when a supposed customer at his door early in the morning revealed that he was a narcotics agent. Pp.  371 U. S. 479-484.

2. On the record in this case, the statements made by Toy in his bedroom at the time of his unlawful arrest were the fruits of the agents’ unlawful action, and they should have been excluded from evidence. Pp.  371 U. S. 484-487.

3. The narcotics taken from a third party as a result of statements made by Toy at the time of his arrest were likewise fruits of the unlawful arrest, and they should not have been admitted as evidence against Toy. Pp.  371 U. S. 487-488. 

Page 371 U. S. 472

4. After exclusion of the foregoing items of improperly admitted evidence, the only proofs remaining to sustain Toy’s conviction are his and his codefendant’s unsigned statements; any admissions of guilt in Toy’s statement require corroboration; no reference to Toy in his codefendant’s statement constitutes admissible evidence corroborating any admission by Toy, and Toy’s conviction must be set aside for lack of competent evidence to support it. Pp.  371 U. S. 488-491.

5. In view of the fact that, after his unlawful arrest, petitioner Wong Sun had been lawfully arraigned and released on his own recognizance and had returned voluntarily several days later when he made his unsigned statement, the connection between his unlawful arrest and the making of that statement was so attenuated that the unsigned statement was not the fruit of the unlawful arrest and, therefore, it was properly admitted in evidence. P.  371 U. S. 491.

6. The seizure of the narcotics admitted in evidence invaded no right of privacy of person or premises which would entitle Wong Sun to object to its use at his trial. Pp.  371 U. S. 491-492.

7. Any references to Wong Sun in his codefendant’s statement were incompetent to corroborate Wong Sun’s admissions, and Wong Sun is entitled to a new trial, because it is not clear from the record whether or not the trial court relied upon his codefendant’s statement as a source of corroboration of Wong Sun’s confession. Pp.  371 U. S. 492-493.

288 F.2d 366, reversed and cause remanded.

United States v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38 (1976)


On the basis of information that respondent Santana had in her possession marked money used to make a heroin “buy” arranged by an undercover agent, police officers went to Santana’s house where she was standing in the doorway holding a paper bag, but, as the officers approached, she retreated into the vestibule of her house, where they caught her. When she tried to escape, envelopes containing what was later determined to be heroin fell to the floor from the paper bag, and she was found to have been carrying some of the marked money on her person. Respondent Alejandro, who had been sitting on the front steps, was caught when he tried to make off with the dropped envelopes of heroin. After their indictment for possessing heroin with intent to distribute, respondents moved to suppress the heroin and marked money. The District Court granted the motion on the ground that, although the officers had probable cause to make the arrests, Santana’s retreat into the vestibule did not justify a warrantless entry into the house on the ground of “hot pursuit.” The Court of Appeals affirmed.


1. Santana, while standing in the doorway of her house, was in a “public place” for purposes of the Fourth Amendment, since she was not in an area where she had any expectation of privacy, and was not merely visible to the public, but was exposed to public view, speech, hearing, and touch as if she had been standing completely outside her house. Thus, when the police, who concededly had probable cause to do so, sought to arrest her, they merely intended to make a warrantless arrest in a public place upon probable cause, and did not violate the Fourth Amendment.  United States v. Watson, 423 U. S. 411 . P.  427 U. S. 42

2. By retreating into a private place, Santana could not defeat an otherwise proper arrest that had been set in motion in a public place. Since there was a need to act quickly to prevent destruction of evidence, there was a true “hot pursuit,” which need not be an extended hue and cry “in and about [the] public streets,” and thus a warrantless entry to make the arrest was 

Page 427 U. S. 39

justified, Warden v. Hayden, 387 U. S. 294, as was the search incident to that arrest. Pp.  427 U. S. 42-43.


REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p.  427 U. S. 43. STEVENS, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which STEWART, J., joined, post, p.  427 U. S. 44. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p.  427 U. S. 45.

United States v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164 (1974)


Respondent was arrested in the front yard of a house in which he lived along with a Mrs. Graff (daughter of the lessees) and others. The arresting officers, who did not ask him which room he occupied or whether he would consent to a search, were then admitted to the house by Mrs. Graff and, with her consent but without a warrant, searched the house, including a bedroom, which Mrs. Graff told them was jointly occupied by respondent and herself, and in a closet of which the officers found and seized money. Respondent was indicted for bank robbery, and moved to suppress the seized money as evidence. The District Court held that, where consent by a third person is relied upon as justification for a search, the Government must show, inter alia, not only that it reasonably appeared to the officers that the person had authority to consent, but also that the person had actual authority to permit the search, and that the Government had not satisfactorily proved that Mrs. Graff had such authority. Although Mrs. Graff’s statements to the officers that she and respondent occupied the same bedroom were deemed admissible to prove the officers’ good faith belief, they were held to be inadmissible extrajudicial statements to prove the truth of the facts therein averred, and the same was held to be true of statements by both Mrs. Graff and respondent that they were married, which was not the case. The Court of Appeals affirmed.


1. When the prosecution seeks to justify a warrantless search by proof of voluntary consent, it is not limited to proof that consent was given by the defendant, but may show that permission to search was obtained from a third party who possessed common authority over or other sufficient relationship to the premises or effects sought to be inspected. Pp.  415 U. S. 169-172.

2. It was error to exclude from evidence at the suppression hearings Mrs. Graff’s out-of-court statements respecting the joint occupancy of the bedroom, as well as the evidence that both respondent and Mrs. Graff had represented themselves as husband and wife. Pp.  415 U. S. 172-177. 

Page 415 U. S. 165

(a) There is no automatic rule against receiving hearsay evidence in suppression hearings (where the trial court itself can accord such evidence such weight as it deems desirable), and under the circumstances here, where the District Court as satisfied that Mrs. Graff’s out-of-court statements had, in fact, been made and nothing in the record raised doubts about their truthfulness, there was no apparent reason to exclude the declarations in the course of resolving the issues raised at the suppression hearings. Pp.  415 U. S. 172-176.

(b) Mrs. Graff’s statements were against her penal interest, since extramarital cohabitation is a state crime. Thus, they carried their own indicia of reliability and should have been admitted as evidence at the suppression hearings, even if they would not have been admissible at respondent’s trial. Pp.  415 U. S. 176-177.

3. Although, given the admissibility of the excluded statements, the Government apparently sustained its burden of proof as to Mrs. Graff’s authority to consent to the search, the District Court should reconsider the sufficiency of the evidence in light of this Court’s opinion. Pp.  415 U. S. 177-178.

476 F.2d 1083, reversed and remanded.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p.  415 U. S. 178. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p.  415 U. S. 188.

Steagald v. United States, 451 U.S. 204 (1981)


Pursuant to an arrest warrant for one Lyons, Drug Enforcement Administration agents entered petitioner’s home to search for Lyons without first obtaining a search warrant. In the course of searching the home, the agents found cocaine and other incriminating evidence, but did not find Lyons. Petitioner was then arrested and indicted on federal drug charges. His pretrial motion to suppress all evidence uncovered during the search of his home on the ground that it was illegally obtained because the agents had failed to obtain a search warrant was denied by the District Court, and petitioner was convicted. The Court of Appeals affirmed.


1. The Government is precluded from contending in this Court that petitioner lacked an expectation of privacy in his searched home sufficient to prevail on his Fourth Amendment claim where this argument was never raised in the courts below, but, rather, the Government had made contrary assertions in those courts, and acquiesced in their contrary findings. Pp.  451 U. S. 208-211.

2. The search in question violated the Fourth Amendment where it took place in the absence of consent or exigent circumstances. Pp.  451 U. S. 211-222.

(a) Absent exigent circumstances or consent, a home may not be searched without a warrant. Two distinct interests were implicated by the search in this case — Lyons’ interest in being free from an unreasonable seizure and petitioner’s interest in being free from an unreasonable search of his home. Because the arrest warrant for Lyons addressed only the former interest, the search of petitioner’s home was no more reasonable from petitioner’s perspective than it would have been if conducted in the absence of any warrant. The search therefore violated the Fourth Amendment. Pp.  451 U. S. 211-216.

(b) Common law, contrary to the Government’s assertion, does not furnish precedent for upholding the search in question, but rather sheds little light on the narrow issue presented of whether an arrest warrant, as opposed to a search warrant, is adequate to protect the Fourth Amendment interests of persons not named in the warrant when their home is searched without their consent and in the absence of exigent 

Page 451 U. S. 205

circumstances. Moreover, the history of the Fourth Amendment strongly suggests that its Framers would not have sanctioned the search in question. Pp.  451 U. S. 217-220.

(e) A search warrant requirement, under the circumstances of this case, will not significantly impede effective law enforcement efforts. An arrest warrant alone suffices to enter a suspect’s own residence, and, if probable cause exists, no warrant is required to apprehend a suspected felon in a public place. Moreover, the exigent circumstances doctrine significantly limits the situations in which a search warrant is needed. And in those situations in which a search warrant is necessary, the inconvenience incurred by the police is generally insignificant. In any event, whatever practical problems there are in requiring a search warrant in cases such as this, they cannot outweigh the constitutional interest at stake in protecting the right of presumptively innocent people to be secure in their homes from unjustified forcible intrusions by the government. Pp.  451 U. S. 220-222.

606 F.2d 540 and 615 F.2d 642, reversed and remanded.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., concurred in the judgment. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which WHITE, J., joined, post, p.  451 U. S. 223.

Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980)


These appeals challenge the constitutionality of New York statutes authorizing police officers to enter a private residence without a warrant and with force, if necessary, to make a routine felony arrest. In each of the appeals, police officers, acting with probable cause but without warrants, had gone to the appellant’s residence to arrest the appellant on a felony charge and had entered the premises without the consent of any occupant. In each case, the New York trial judge held that the warrantless entry was authorized by New York statutes and refused to suppress evidence that was seized upon the entry. Treating both cases as involving routine arrests in which there was ample time to obtain a warrant, the New York Court of Appeals, in a single opinion, ultimately affirmed the convictions of both appellants.

Held: The Fourth Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits the police from making a warrantless and nonconsensual entry into a suspect’s home in order to make a routine felony arrest. Pp.  445 U. S. 583-603.

(a) The physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed. To be arrested in the home involves not only the invasion attendant to all arrests, but also an invasion of the sanctity of the home, which is too substantial an invasion to allow without a warrant, in the absence of exigent circumstances, even when it is accomplished under statutory authority and when probable cause is present. In terms that apply equally to seizures of property and to seizures of persons, the Fourth Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house. Absent exigent circumstances, that threshold may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant. Pp  445 U. S. 583-590.

(b) The reasons for upholding warrantless arrests in a public place, cf. United States v. Watson, 423 U. S. 411, do not apply to warrantless invasions of the privacy of the home. The common law rule on warrantless home arrests was not as clear as the rule on arrests in public places; the weight of authority as it appeared to the Framers of the 

Page 445 U. S. 574

Fourth Amendment was to the effect that a warrant was required for a home arrest, or, at the minimum, that there were substantial risks in proceeding without one. Although a majority of the States that have taken a position on the question permit warrantless home arrests even in the absence of exigent circumstances, there is an obvious declining trend, and there is by no means the kind of virtual unanimity on this question that was present in United States v. Watson, supra, with regard to warrantless public arrests. And, unlike the situation in Watson, no federal statutes have been cited to indicate any congressional determination that warrantless entries into the home are “reasonable.” Pp.  445 U. S. 590-601.

(c) For Fourth Amendment purposes, an arrest warrant founded on probable cause implicitly carries with it the limited authority to enter a dwelling in which the suspect lives when there is reason to believe the suspect is within. Pp.  445 U. S. 602-603.

45 N.Y.2d 300, 380 N.E.2d 224, reversed and remanded.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p.  445 U. S. 603. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., and REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p.  445 U. S. 603. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p.  445 U. S. 620.

Minnesota v. Carter, 525 U.S. 83 (1998)




No. 97-1147. Argued October 6, 1998-Decided December 1, 1998*

A police officer looked in an apartment window through a gap in the closed blind and observed respondents Carter and Johns and the apartment’s lessee bagging cocaine. After respondents were arrested, they moved to suppress, inter alia, cocaine and other evidence obtained from the apartment and their car, arguing that the officer’s initial observation was an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Respondents were convicted of state drug offenses. The Minnesota trial court held that since they were not overnight social guests, they were not entitled to Fourth Amendment protection, and that the officer’s observation was not a search under the Amendment. The State Court of Appeals held that Carter did not have “standing” to object to the officer’s actions because the evidence indicated that he used the apartment for a business purpose-to package drugs-and, separately, affirmed Johns’ conviction without addressing the “standing” issue. In reversing, the State Supreme Court held that respondents had “standing” to claim Fourth Amendment protection because they had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the invaded place, and that the officer’s observation constituted an unreasonable search.

Held: Any search that may have occurred did not violate respondents’ Fourth Amendment rights. The state courts’ analysis of respondents’ expectation of privacy under the rubric of “standing” doctrine was expressly rejected in Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U. S. 128, 140. Rather, to claim Fourth Amendment protection, a defendant must demonstrate that he personally has an expectation of privacy in the place searched, and that his expectation is reasonable. Id., at 143-144, n. 12. The Fourth Amendment protects persons against unreasonable searches of “their persons [and] houses,” and thus indicates that it is a personal right that must be invoked by an individual. But the extent to which the Amendment protects people may depend upon where those people are. While an overnight guest may have a legitimate expectation of privacy in someone else’s home, see Minnesota v. Olson, 495 U. S. 91, 98-99, one who is merely present with the consent of the householder may not, see Jones v. United States, 362 U. S. 257, 259. And an expecta-

*Together with Minnesota v. Johns, also on certiorari to the same court (see this Court’s Rule 12.4).



tion of privacy in commercial property is different from, and less than, a similar expectation in a home. New York v. Burger, 482 U. S. 691, 700. Here, the purely commercial nature of the transaction, the relatively short period of time that respondents were on the premises, and the lack of any previous connection between them and the householder all lead to the conclusion that their situation is closer to that of one simply permitted on the premises. Any search which may have occurred did not violate their Fourth Amendment rights. Because respondents had no legitimate expectation of privacy, the Court need not decide whether the officer’s observation constituted a “search.” pp.87-91.

569 N. W. 2d 169 (first judgment) and 180 (second judgment), reversed and remanded.

REHNQUIST, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which O’CONNOR, SCALIA, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which THOMAS, J., joined, post, p. 91. KENNEDY, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 99. BREYER, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 103. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEVENS and SOUTER, JJ., joined, post, p. 106.

James C. Backstrom argued the cause for petitioner.

With him on the briefs were Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General of Minnesota, and Phillip D. Prokopowicz.

Jeffrey A. Lamken argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Waxman, Acting Assistant Attorney General Keeney, and Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben.

Bradford Colbert argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were John M. Stuart, Lawrence Hammerling, Marie L. Wolf, and Scott G. Swanson.t

t A brief of amici curiae urging reversal was filed for the State of Maryland et al. by J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Attorney General of Maryland, Annabelle L. Lisic, Assistant Attorney General, Alan G. Lance, Attorney General of Idaho, and Myrna A. I. Stahman, Deputy Attorney General, joined by the Attorneys General for their respective States as follows: Bill Pryor of Alabama, Bruce M. Botelho of Alaska, Grant Woods of Arizona, Daniel E. Lungren of California, M. Jane Brady of Delaware, Thurbert E. Baker of Georgia, Margery S. Bronster of Hawaii, Jeffrey A. Modisett of Indiana,

Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981)


When police officers executing a warrant to search a house for narcotics encountered respondent descending the front steps, they requested his assistance in gaining entry and detained him while they searched the premises. After finding narcotics and ascertaining that respondent owned the house, the police arrested him, searched his person, and found heroin in his coat pocket. Respondent, who was charged with possession of the heroin found on his person, moved to suppress the heroin as the product of an illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The trial judge granted the motion and quashed the information, and both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court affirmed.

Held: The initial detention of respondent, which constituted a “seizure” and was assumed to be unsupported by probable cause, did not violate his constitutional right to be secure against an unreasonable seizure of his person. For Fourth Amendment purposes, a warrant to search for contraband founded on probable cause implicitly carries with it the limited authority to detain the occupants of the premises while a proper search is conducted. Because it was lawful to require respondent to reenter and to remain in the house until evidence establishing probable cause to arrest him was found, his arrest and the search incident thereto were constitutionally permissible. Pp.  452 U. S. 694-705.

407 Mich. 432, 286 N.W.2d 226, reversed.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p.  452 U. S. 706. 

Page 452 U. S. 693

Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325 (1990)


Following a Maryland armed robbery by two men, one of whom was wearing a red running suit, police obtained arrest warrants for respondent Buie and his suspected accomplice and executed the warrant for Buie at his house. After Buie was arrested upon emerging from the basement, one of the officers entered the basement “in case there was someone else” there and seized a red running suit lying in plain view. The trial court denied Buie’s motion to suppress the running suit, the suit was introduced into evidence, and Buie was convicted of armed robbery and a weapons offense. The intermediate appellate court affirmed the denial of the suppression motion, but the State Court of Appeals reversed, ruling that the running suit was inadmissible because the officer who conducted the “protective sweep” of the basement did not have probable cause to believe that a serious and demonstrable potentiality for danger existed.

Held: The Fourth Amendment permits a properly limited protective sweep in conjunction with an in-home arrest when the searching officer possesses a reasonable belief based on specific and articulable 

Page 494 U. S. 326

facts that the area to be swept harbors an individual posing a danger to those on the arrest scene.  Michigan v. Long, 463 U. S. 1032,  463 U. S. 1049-1050; Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1,  392 U. S. 21. Pp.  494 U. S. 330-337.

(a) In holding that, respectively, an on-the-street “frisk” and a roadside search of an automobile’s passenger compartment were reasonable despite the absence of a warrant or probable cause, Terry and Longbalanced the Fourth Amendment interests of the persons with whom they were dealing against the immediate interests of the police in protecting themselves from the danger posed by hidden weapons. Here, the police had an analogous interest in taking steps to assure themselves that Buie’s house was not harboring other person’s who were dangerous and who could unexpectedly launch an attack, and the fact that Buie had an expectation of privacy in rooms that were not examined by the police prior to the arrest does not mean that such rooms were immune from entry. No warrant was required, and as an incident to the arrest the officers could, as a precautionary matter and without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, look in closets and other spaces immediately adjoining the place of arrest from which an attack could be launched. Beyond that, however, just as in Terry and Long, there must be articulable facts which, taken together with the rational inferences from those facts, would warrant a reasonably prudent officer in believing that the area to be swept harbors an individual posing a danger. Such a protective sweep is not a full search of the premises, but may extend only to a cursory inspection of those spaces where a person may be found. The sweep lasts no longer than is necessary to dispel the reasonable suspicion of danger and in any event no longer than it takes to complete the arrest and depart the premises. Pp.  494 U. S. 331-336.

(b) Chimel v. California, 395 U. S. 752 — which held that, in the absence of a search warrant, the justifiable search incident to an in-home arrest could not extend beyond the arrestee’s person and the area from within which he might have obtained a weapon — is distinguished. First, Chimel was concerned with a full-blown, top-to-bottom search of an entire house for evidence of the crime for which the arrest was made, not the more limited intrusion contemplated by a protective sweep. Second, the justification for the search incident to arrest in Chimel was the threat posed by the arrestee, not the safety threat posed by the house, or more properly by unseen third parties in the house. P.  494 U. S. 336.

(c) The Court of Appeals applied an unnecessarily strict Fourth Amendment standard in requiring a protective sweep to be justified by probable cause. The case is remanded for application of the proper standard. Pp.  494 U. S. 336-337.

314 Md. 151, 550 A.2d 79, vacated and remanded.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and BLACKMUN, STEVENS, O’CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., post, p.  494 U. S. 337, and KENNEDY, J., post, p. 494 U. S. 339, filed concurring opinions. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p.  494 U. S. 339. 

Page 494 U. S. 327

Lange v. California, 594 U.S. (2021)



certiorari to the court of appeal of california, first appellate division

No. 20–18. Argued February 24, 2021—Decided June 23, 2021

This case arises from a police officer’s warrantless entry into petitioner Arthur Lange’s garage. Lange drove by a California highway patrol officer while playing loud music and honking his horn. The officer began to follow Lange and soon after turned on his overhead lights to signal that Lange should pull over. Rather than stopping, Lange drove a short distance to his driveway and entered his attached garage. The officer followed Lange into the garage. He questioned Lange and, after observing signs of intoxication, put him through field sobriety tests. A later blood test showed that Lange’s blood-alcohol content was three times the legal limit. 

The State charged Lange with the misdemeanor of driving under the influence. Lange moved to suppress the evidence obtained after the officer entered his garage, arguing that the warrantless entry violated the Fourth Amendment. The Superior Court denied Lange’s motion, and its appellate division affirmed. The California Court of Appeal also affirmed. It concluded that Lange’s failure to pull over when the officer flashed his lights created probable cause to arrest Lange for the misdemeanor of failing to comply with a police signal. And it stated that Lange could not defeat an arrest begun in a public place by retreating into his home. The pursuit of a suspected misdemeanant, the court held, is always permissible under the exigent-circumstances exception to the warrant requirement. The California Supreme Court denied review.

Held: Under the Fourth Amendment, pursuit of a fleeing misdemeanor suspect does not always—that is, categorically—justify a warrantless entry into a home. Pp. 3–16.

(a) The Court’s Fourth Amendment precedents counsel in favor of a case-by-case assessment of exigency when deciding whether a suspected misdemeanant’s flight justifies a warrantless home entry. The Fourth Amendment ordinarily requires that a law enforcement officer obtain a judicial warrant before entering a home without permission.  Riley v. California, 573 U.S. 373, 382. But an officer may make a warrantless entry when “the exigencies of the situation,” considered in a case-specific way, create “a compelling need for official action and no time to secure a warrant.”  Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452, 460; Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. 141, 149. The Court has found that such exigencies may exist when an officer must act to prevent imminent injury, the destruction of evidence, or a suspect’s escape.

The amicus contends that a suspect’s flight always supplies the exigency needed to justify a warrantless home entry and that the Court endorsed such a categorical approach in United States v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38. The Court disagrees. In upholding a warrantless entry made during a “hot pursuit” of a felony suspect, the Court stated that Santana’s “act of retreating into her house” could “not defeat an arrest” that had “been set in motion in a public place.”  Id., at 42–43. Even assuming that Santana treated fleeing-felon cases categorically, that statement still does not establish a flat rule permitting warrantless home entry whenever a police officer pursues a fleeing misdemeanant.  Santana did not resolve the issue of misdemeanor pursuit; as the Court noted in a later case, “the law regarding warrantless entry in hot pursuit of a fleeing misdemeanant is not clearly established” one way or the other.  Stanton v. Sims, 571 U.S. 3, 8, 10.

Misdemeanors run the gamut of seriousness, and they may be minor. States tend to apply the misdemeanor label to less violent and less dangerous crimes. The Court has held that when a minor offense (and no flight) is involved, police officers do not usually face the kind of emergency that can justify a warrantless home entry. See Welsh v. Wisconsin, 466 U.S. 740, 742–743. Add a suspect’s flight and the calculus changes—but not enough to justify a categorical rule. In many cases, flight creates a need for police to act swiftly. But no evidence suggests that every case of misdemeanor flight creates such a need.

The Court’s Fourth Amendment precedents thus point toward assessing case by case the exigencies arising from misdemeanants’ flight. When the totality of circumstances shows an emergency—a need to act before it is possible to get a warrant—the police may act without waiting. Those circumstances include the flight itself. But pursuit of a misdemeanant does not trigger a categorical rule allowing a warrantless home entry. Pp. 3–12.

(b) The common law in place at the Constitution’s founding similarly does not support a categorical rule allowing warrantless home entry whenever a misdemeanant flees. Like the Court’s modern precedents, the common law afforded the home strong protection from government intrusion and it generally required a warrant before a government official could enter the home. There was an oft-discussed exception: An officer, according to the common-law treatises, could enter a house to pursue a felon. But in the misdemeanor context, officers had more limited authority to intrude on a fleeing suspect’s home. The commentators generally agreed that the authority turned on the circumstances; none suggested a rule authorizing warrantless entry in every misdemeanor-pursuit case. In short, the common law did not have—and does not support—a categorical rule allowing warrantless home entry when a suspected misdemeanant flees. Pp. 12–16.

Vacated and remanded.

Kagan, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Breyer, Sotomayor, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, JJ., joined, and in which Thomas, J., joined as to all but Part II–A. Kavanaugh, J., filed a concurring opinion. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Kavanaugh, J., joined as to Part II. Roberts, C. J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Alito, J., joined.

Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452 (2011)

certiorari to the supreme court of kentucky

No. 09–1272. Argued January 12, 2011—Decided May 16, 2011

Police officers in Lexington, Kentucky, followed a suspected drug dealer to an apartment complex. They smelled marijuana outside an apartment door, knocked loudly, and announced their presence. As soon as the officers began knocking, they heard noises coming from the apartment; the officers believed that these noises were consistent with the destruction of evidence. The officers announced their intent to enter the apartment, kicked in the door, and found respondent and others. They saw drugs in plain view during a protective sweep of the apartment and found additional evidence during a subsequent search. The Circuit Court denied respondent’s motion to suppress the evidence, holding that exigent circumstances—the need to prevent destruction of evidence—justified the warrantless entry. Respondent entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving his right to appeal the suppression ruling, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court of Kentucky reversed. The court assumed that exigent circumstances existed, but it nonetheless invalidated the search. The exigent circumstances rule did not apply, the court held, because the police should have foreseen that their conduct would prompt the occupants to attempt to destroy evidence. 


   1. The exigent circumstances rule applies when the police do not create the exigency by engaging or threatening to engage in conduct that violates the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 5–16.

      (a) The Fourth Amendment expressly imposes two requirements: All searches and seizures must be reasonable; and a warrant may not be issued unless probable cause is properly established and the scope of the authorized search is set out with particularity. Although “ ‘searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable,’ ” Brigham City v. Stuart, 547 U. S. 398, 403, this presumption may be overcome when “ ‘the exigencies of the situation’ make the needs of law enforcement so compelling that [a] warrantless search is objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment,” Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U. S. 385, 394. One such exigency is the need “to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence.”  Brigham Citysupra, at 403. Pp. 5–6.

      (b) Under the “police-created exigency” doctrine, which lower courts have developed as an exception to the exigent circumstances rule, exigent circumstances do not justify a warrantless search when the exigency was “created” or “manufactured” by the conduct of the police. The lower courts have not agreed, however, on the test for determining when police impermissibly create an exigency. Pp. 7–8.

      (c) The proper test follows from the principle that permits warrantless searches: warrantless searches are allowed when the circumstances make it reasonable, within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, to dispense with the warrant requirement. Thus, a warrantless entry based on exigent circumstances is reasonable when the police did not create the exigency by engaging or threatening to engage in conduct violating the Fourth Amendment. A similar approach has been taken in other cases involving warrantless searches. For example, officers may seize evidence in plain view if they have not violated the Fourth Amendment in arriving at the spot from which the observation of the evidence is made, see Horton v. California, 496 U. S. 128, 136–140; and they may seek consent-based encounters if they are lawfully present in the place where the consensual encounter occurs, see INS v. Delgado, 466 U. S. 210, 217, n. 5. Pp. 8–10.

      (d) Some courts, including the Kentucky Supreme Court, have imposed additional requirements—asking whether officers “ ‘deliberately created the exigent circumstances with the bad faith intent to avoid the warrant requirement,’ ” 302 S. W. 3d 649, 656 (case below); reasoning that police may not rely on an exigency if “ ‘it was reasonably foreseeable that [their] investigative tactics … would create the exigent circumstances,’ ”ibid.; faulting officers for knocking on a door when they had sufficient evidence to seek a warrant but did not do so; and finding that officers created or manufactured an exigency when their investigation was contrary to standard or good law enforcement practices. Such requirements are unsound and are thus rejected. Pp. 10–14.

      (e) Respondent contends that an exigency is impermissibly created when officers engage in conduct that would cause a reasonable person to believe that entry was imminent and inevitable, but that approach is also flawed. The ability of officers to respond to an exigency cannot turn on such subtleties as the officers’ tone of voice in announcing their presence and the forcefulness of their knocks. A forceful knock may be necessary to alert the occupants that someone is at the door, and unless officers identify themselves loudly enough, occupants may not know who is at their doorstep. Respondent’s test would make it extremely difficult for officers to know how loudly they may announce their presence or how forcefully they may knock without running afoul of the police-created exigency rule. And in most cases, it would be nearly impossible for a court to determine whether that threshold had been passed. Pp. 14–15.

   2. Assuming that an exigency existed here, there is no evidence that the officers either violated the Fourth Amendment or threatened to do so prior to the point when they entered the apartment. Pp. 16–19.

      (a) Any question about whether an exigency existed here is better addressed by the Kentucky Supreme Court on remand. P. 17.

      (b) Assuming an exigency did exist, the officers’ conduct—banging on the door and announcing their presence—was entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment. Respondent has pointed to no evidence supporting his argument that the officers made any sort of “demand” to enter the apartment, much less a demand that amounts to a threat to violate the Fourth Amendment. If there is contradictory evidence that has not been brought to this Court’s attention, the state court may elect to address that matter on remand. Finally, the record makes clear that the officers’ announcement that they were going to enter the apartment was made after the exigency arose. Pp. 17–19.

302 S. W. 3d 649, reversed and remanded.

   Alito, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined. Ginsburg, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213 (1983)


On May 3, 1978, the Police Department of Bloomingdale, Ill., received an anonymous letter which included statements that respondents, husband and wife, were engaged in selling drugs; that the wife would drive their car to Florida on May 3 to be loaded with drugs, and the husband would fly down in a few days to drive the car back; that the car’s trunk would be loaded with drugs; and that respondents presently had over $100,000 worth of drugs in their basement. Acting on the tip, a police officer determined respondents’ address and learned that the husband made a reservation on a May 5 flight to Florida. Arrangements for surveillance of the flight were made with an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the surveillance disclosed that the husband took the flight, stayed overnight in a motel room registered in the wife’s name, and left the following morning with a woman in a car bearing an Illinois license plate issued to the husband, heading north on an interstate highway used by travelers to the Bloomingdale area. A search warrant for respondents’ residence and automobile was then obtained from an Illinois state court judge, based on the Bloomingdale police officer’s affidavit setting forth the foregoing facts and a copy of the anonymous letter. When respondents arrived at their home, the police were waiting, and discovered marihuana and other contraband in respondents’ car trunk and home. Prior to respondents’ trial on charges of violating state drug laws, the trial court ordered suppression of all the items seized, and the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court also affirmed, holding that the letter and affidavit were inadequate to sustain a determination of probable cause for issuance of the search warrant under Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U. S. 108, and Spinelli v. United States, 393 U. S. 410, since they failed to satisfy the “two-pronged test” of (1) revealing the informant’s “basis of knowledge” and (2) providing sufficient facts to establish either the informant’s “veracity” or the “reliability” of the informant’s report.


1. The question — which this Court requested the parties to address — whether the rule requiring the exclusion at a criminal trial of evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment should be modified so as, for example, not to require exclusion of evidence obtained in the reasonable 

Page 462 U. S. 214

belief that the search and seizure at issue was consistent with the Fourth Amendment, will not be decided in this case, since it was not presented to or decided by the Illinois courts. Although prior decisions interpreting the “not pressed or passed on below” rule have not involved a State’s failure to raise a defense to a federal right or remedy asserted below, the purposes underlying the rule are, for the most part, as applicable in such a case as in one where a party fails to assert a federal right. The fact that the Illinois courts affirmatively applied the federal exclusionary rule does not affect the application of the “not pressed or passed on below” rule. Nor does the State’s repeated opposition to respondents’ substantive Fourth Amendment claims suffice to have raised the separate question whether the exclusionary rule should be modified. The extent of the continued vitality of the rule is an issue of unusual significance, and adhering scrupulously to the customary limitations on this Court’s discretion promotes respect for its adjudicatory process and the stability of its decisions, and lessens the threat of untoward practical ramifications not foreseen at the time of decision. Pp.  462 U. S. 217-224.

2. The rigid “two-pronged test” under Aguilar and Spinelli for determining whether an informant’s tip establishes probable cause for issuance of a warrant is abandoned, and the “totality of the circumstances” approach that traditionally has informed probable cause determinations is substituted in its place. The elements under the “two-pronged test” concerning the informant’s “veracity,” “reliability,” and “basis of knowledge” should be understood simply as closely intertwined issues that may usefully illuminate the common sense, practical question whether there is “probable cause” to believe that contraband or evidence is located in a particular place. The task of the issuing magistrate is simply to make a practical, common sense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place. And the duty of a reviewing court is simply to ensure that the magistrate had a substantial basis for concluding that probable cause existed. This flexible, easily applied standard will better achieve the accommodation of public and private interests that the Fourth Amendment requires than does the approach that has developed from Aguilar and Spinelli. Pp.  462 U. S. 230-241.

3. The judge issuing the warrant had a substantial basis for concluding that probable cause to search respondents’ home and car existed. Under the “totality of the circumstances” analysis, corroboration of details of an informant’s tip by independent police work is of significant value.  Cf. Draper v. United States, 358 U. S. 307. Here, even standing alone, the facts obtained through the independent investigation of the Bloomingdale police officer and the DEA at least suggested that 

Page 462 U. S. 215

respondents were involved in drug trafficking. In addition, the judge could rely on the anonymous letter, which had been corroborated in major part by the police officer’s efforts. Pp.  462 U. S. 241-246.

85 Ill. 2d 376, 423 N.E.2d 887, reversed.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BLACKMUN, POWELL, and O’CONNOR, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p.  462 U. S. 246. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p.  462 U. S. 274. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p.  462 U. S. 291. 

Page 462 U. S. 216

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