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Steele v. United States


An affidavit for a search warrant authorized by the issuing judge consisted of the following description:

The building to be searched was a four-story building in New York City on the south side of West 46th Street, with a sign on it Indian Head Auto Truck Service–Indian Head Storage Warehouse, No. 609 and 611. It was all under lease to Steele. The building could be entered by three entrances from the street, one on the 609 side on the 611 side, and in the middle of the building is an automobile entrance from the street into a garage. There is no partition between 611 and 609 on the ground or garage floor, and there were only partitions above and none which prevented access to the elevator on any floor from either the 609 or 611 side.


Whether a search warrant based on this application was unconstitutional in that the affidavit and the warrant did not particularly describe the place to be searched?


No. The search was constitutional as the affidavit adequately described the place to be searched.


The Court held that the description of the building indicated the officers intended to search the whole building. The evidence left no doubt that although the building had two numbers, the garage business covering the first floor, and the storage business above were so related to the elevator that there was no real division of the building. The Court considered the fact that the search did not “go too far.” The places searched were all rooms connected with the garage by the elevator.


267 U.S. 498, 45 S. Ct. 414 (1925)

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