Police Need Probable Cause to Seize Someone Who Has Left The Immediate Vicinity of a Place Where a Search Warrant is Being Executed
In Bailey v. United States, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the rule of Michigan v. Summers (1982), which permits the detention of persons found on the premises during the lawful execution of a search warrant, does not extend beyond the premises’ immediate vicinity. In Bailey, police officers saw Bailey leaving an apartment shortly before they planned to execute a search warrant. They detained him approximately a mile away and discovered a key to the apartment – in which other officers had found a gun and drugs – in his pocket. When federal prosecutors brought charges against him, Bailey sought to have the key (as well as his statement to police officers) suppressed on the ground that his detention violated the Fourth Amendment. The district court denied his motion, holding that the detention was justified by the Court’s decision in Michigan v. Summers and, in the alternative, by Terry v. Ohio (1968). The jury found Bailey guilty. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed. It read Summers to permit detaining the occupant of premises being searched pursuant to a valid warrant when the occupant leaves those premises so long as the detention is made “as soon as reasonably practicable.”
On appeal, the government relied on the Summers rule to justify the stop and detention of Bailey. The government argued that Summers was a bright-line rule that justified his detention, as he had been the recent occupant of a location subject to a lawful search warrant.
The Supreme Court noted that the Summers Rule was based on three justifications, “officer safety, facilitating the completion of the search, and preventing flight.” The Supreme Court then found that these justifications were not present under the given facts.
Accordingly, the Court held that the application of the Summers rule is limited to “the immediate vicinity of a premises to be searched . . .” Justice Kennedy went on to write that, “Because detention is justified by the interests in executing a safe and efficient search, the decision to detain must be acted upon at the scene of the search and not at a later time in a more remote place.” Because Bailey was detained at a point beyond any reasonable understanding of “immediate vicinity”, his detention was not justifiable.
All persons charged with crimes are entitled to the protections afforded by the United States Constitution. An experienced criminal defense attorney helps to ensure that a defendant’s rights are protected before, during and after a trial. If you have been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately. For a confidential consultation, contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff at (215) 563-9800 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.