The defendant was the primary suspect in a burglary. Officers had reasonable suspicion to believe the defendant was involved. Without a warrant, officers went to the defendant’s home to in an effort to get the defendant to provide them with his fingerprints. When the defendant expressed reluctance to go with the officers to the police station, one of the officers told the defendant they would arrest him. The officers did not have probable cause. The defendant told the officers he would rather go to the police station than be arrested. The defendant then went with the officers and was fingerprinted. When the officers determined the defendant’s fingerprints matched those recovered at the scene of the crime, he was arrested.
Whether the government can transport suspects and take their fingerprints on the basis of reasonable suspicion?
No. Where there is no probable cause to arrest a suspect, no uncoerced consent to journey to the police station, and no prior judicial authorization for detaining him, the investigative detention at the station for fingerprinting purposes is unreasonable.
When the government forcibly removes a person from his home and transport him to the police station, the person has been seized. The Court refused to characterize this seizure, as brief as it may have been, as an investigative stop. The seizure was comparable to the acts of a traditional arrest. Therefore, the Court held this seizure, where not under judicial supervision, is sufficiently like an arrest to require probable cause.
470 U.S. 811, 105 S. Ct. 1643 (1985)