U.S. Supreme Court Decision About Search & Seizure

The United States Supreme Court decided yesterday that our Fourth Amendment Right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures does not allow police executing a search warrant to seize the premises’ occupant when he or she is not in the immediate vicinity. Bailey v. United States, 568 U.S. ­­__ (2013), 11-770. The Court held, in a 6-3 decision, that when Mr. Bailey left his apartment prior to a search warrant execution, was followed and then stopped by officers a mile away, he was not considered “in the vicinity” and subject to detention because of the simultaneous warrant execution. While police are authorized to detain people on or in the vicinity of the place being searched for officers’ safety, the Court also held that the search warrant provides a boundary for what is considered the vicinity the search. Slip Opinion at 13. Detention incident to a search is limited to the “area in which an occupant poses a real threat to the safe and efficient execution of a search warrant.” Id. The case has been remanded to the Court of Appeals to address the issue of whether officers had reasonable suspicion pursuant to Terry v. Ohio to stop Mr. Bailey, which would provide a distinct basis for detaining him.  Read the full Supreme Court opinion here: Bailey v. United States opinion.


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