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.
FACTS:
  • 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
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
  • Trial Ct. denied motion to suppress
  • Ct. App. reversed
REASONING:
  • 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
COMMENTS:
  • 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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