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Agnello v. United States


The defendant was arrested after retrieving controlled substances from his home and selling them to an agent of the government. The defendant was transported to the police station and several officers entered his home. They searched for, and found, other controlled substances.


Whether the defendant’s home could be entered and searched incident to his arrest?


No. The officers exceeded the lawful scope of a search incident to arrest.


The lawful scope of a search incident to an arrest is limited to the body and “the place where the arrest is made in order to find and seize things connected with the crime as its fruits or as the means by which it was committed, as well as weapons and other things to effect an escape from custody.” However, the Court refused to extend this search to other areas. The Court stated “[T]he search of a private dwelling without a warrant is in itself unreasonable and abhorrent to our laws.” The existence of probable cause alone does not permit the search of a home. The Court held “[B]elief, however well founded, that an article sought is concealed in a dwelling house furnishes no justification for a search of that place without a warrant. And such searches are held unlawful notwithstanding facts unquestionably showing probable cause.”


269 U.S. 20, 46 S. Ct. 4 (1925)

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