Maryland v. Buie

Maryland v. Buie Case Brief

United States Supreme Court
494 U.S. 325 (1990)

ISSUE: Is a protective sweep of a house to ensure that there are no persons hidden that could harm officers while effecting an arrest reasonable under the 4th Amdt.?
HOLDING: Yes, when the searching officer possesses a reasonable belief based on specific and articulable facts that the area to be swept harbors an individual posing a danger to those on the arrest scene during an in-home arrest, the police may conduct a protective sweep.
  • 2 men committed an armed robbery of a pizza restaurant, and the police obtained arrest warrants for D and another person
  • After making sure D would be home, the officers executed the arrest warrants and found D in the basement
  • After arresting D, an officer returned to the basement to make sure no one was hiding there and found the track suit used in the robbery in plain view
  • Trial Ct. denied motion to suppress
  • Ct. App. reversed
  • Protective sweeps valid: Arresting officers are permitted to take reasonable steps to ensure their safety during and after making the arrest
    • There must be specific and articulable facts which, taken together with the rational inferences drawn from them, would warrant a reasonably prudent officer in believing that the area to be swept harbors and individual posing a danger to those on the arrest scene
    • May only be a cursory inspection and not a full sweep
  • This case presents the proposition that the police may perform a cursory protective sweep of a residence when performing a lawful arrest if they reasonably believe that the area to be swept harbors a dangerous individual. This would mean that a normal-sized cigar box is off limits. However, the Plain View Doctrine still applies if the police find contraband in "plain view" while performing a Buie protective sweep.


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