support@bluetogold.com

or use our live chat

888-579-7796

Customer Service

LEGAL

RESEARCH

Chimel v. California

Facts

Three officers arrived at the defendant’s home with an arrest warrant. They knocked on the door, identified themselves to the defendant’s wife, and asked if they could come inside. She let the officers in the house where they waited for the defendant to return home from work. When the defendant entered the house, an officer handed him the arrest warrant. One of the officers asked the defendant if he could look around. The defendant said no, but was advised that on the basis of the lawful arrest the officers would nonetheless conduct a search.

The officers, accompanied by the defendant’s wife, searched the entire house. In the master bedroom, the officers directed the wife to open drawers and to physically move their contents from side to side so that they might view any items that would have come from the crime. The officers seized numerous items that constituted evidence of the crime.

Issue

Whether the warrantless search of the defendant’s entire house can be conducted incident to his arrest?

Held

No. The warrantless search of the defendant’s entire house, incident to his arrest, was unreasonable as it extended beyond the defendant’s person and the area under his immediate control.When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for an officer to search the person arrested to remove any weapons that the arrestee might use to resist arrest. It is also reasonable for an officer to search and seize any evidence on the arrestee’s person to prevent its concealment or destruction and for the means of committing an escape.

Discussion

When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for an officer to search the person arrested to remove any weapons that the arrestee might use to resist arrest. It is also reasonable for an officer to search and seize any evidence on the arrestee’s person to prevent its concealment or destruction and for the means of committing an escape.

The area that an officer may search is that area within an arrestee’s immediate control. That is the area that the person might gain possession of a weapon, means of escape, or destructible evidence. There is, however, no justification for routinely searching any room other than that in which an arrest occurs, or for that matter, for searching through desk drawers or other closed areas in that room itself. Such searches, in the absence of well-recognized exceptions, may be made only under the authority of a search warrant.

The search in this case went beyond the defendant’s person and the area that he might have obtained a weapon, a means of escape, or something that could have been used as evidence against him. There was no constitutional justification, in the absence of a search warrant, for extending the search beyond the area from which the defendant was arrested.

Citation

395 U.S. 752, 89 S. Ct. 2034 (1969)

Subscribe to Updates