Dunaway v. New York

Dunaway v. New York

United States Supreme Court
442 U.S. 200 (1979)

ISSUE: Did the police violate the 4th Amdt.'s prohibition against unreasonable seizures when they requested that D accompany them to the station in a police car for interrogation and would have used force if necessary to restrain him but he was not under a technical "arrest?"
HOLDING: Yes, the detention of D was indistinguishable from a traditional arrest.
  • A detective received a tip that possibly implicated D in the robbery-murder of a pizza parlor that proved to be an insufficient basis for PC
  • The detective then ordered three detectives to go and pick up D and bring him to the station where they questioned him
  • D was given his Miranda rights, waived counsel, and made statements that incriminated him in the crime
  • D was "seized": No question that D was involuntarily taken to the station and thus was "seized"
  • Terry doesn't apply: Case not within the narrow scope of Terry which authorizes a temporary detention and frisk for weapons
  • Essentially an arrest: The detention of D was indistinguishable from an arrest in many ways because he was kept at the station and was not told he was free to go
    • Not calling the detention an "arrest" doesn't obviate the PC requirement for the seizure
    • General 4th Amdt. rule is that seizures are only reasonable if based on PC
  • No balancing: Balancing approach would swallow the 4th Amdt. protections if allowed to extend further
  • Balancing approach should only be applied on a categorical and not ad hoc, case-by-case basis
  • Police conduct here is similar enough to an arrest that the normal level of PC was necessary
DISSENT - Rehnquist:
  • D voluntarily accompanied the police to the station and made voluntary incriminating statements
  • Police behavior here was entirely free of physical force or show of authority


  • Remember that after Terry v. Ohio I said that a Terry stop, while indeed a Fourth Amendment "seizure," is not an "arrest." Thus the police may not treat a Terry stop like an arrest like by bringing the suspect to the police station.


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