United States v. Robinson

United States v. Robinson

United States Supreme Court
414 U.S. 218 (1973)

ISSUE: Was a search of a crumpled up cigarette pack in D's pocket following D's lawful arrest justifiable as a search incident to arrest under the 4th Amdt.?
HOLDING: Yes, in the case of a lawful custodial arrest, a full search of the person is not only an exception to the warrant requirement of the 4th Amdt., but it is also a "reasonable" search under the it.
FACTS:
  • Officer Jenks determined that D was operating his vehicle after the revocation of his operator's permit because Jenks had check D's permit 4 days earlier
  • Jenks arrested D and upon search his breast pocket, Jenks found a crumpled up cigarette package
  • Jenks removed the package and found 14 gelatin capsules filled with heroin inside
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
  • No question that Jenks had PC to arrest D
  • Heroin was admitted into evidence, and D was convicted
  • Ct. App. reversed reasoning that only a search for weapons was justified and that the Terry requirements should be extended to searches incident to arrest as well
RULES:
  • Chimel: When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the person arrested in order to remove any weapons that the latter might seek to use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape and to seize any evidence on the arrestee's person
  • Terry: A relatively expansive search of the arrestee's person is justified because an arrest is the first stage in a criminal prosecution which is intended to vindicate society's interest in having its laws obeyed
REASONING:
  • Searches incident to arrest are reasonable: In the case of a lawful custodial arrest, a full search of the person is not only an exception to the warrant requirement of the 4th Amdt., but it is also a "reasonable" search under the it
    • Authority to search doesn't depend on what a court later decides
    • Justification found in needing to protect officer against concealed weapons and to preserve evidence on arrestee's person for trial
  • Search & seizure here reasonable: Search of D and seizure of the heroin were permissible under the 4th Amdt.
    • Immaterial that Jenks didn't entertain any subjective fear of D or that D might have a weapon

 

Leave a Reply