362 U.S. 257 (1960), 69, Jones v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 69
Citation:362 U.S. 257, 80 S.Ct. 725, 4 L.Ed.2d 697
Party Name:Jones v. United States
Case Date:March 28, 1960
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 257

362 U.S. 257 (1960)

80 S.Ct. 725, 4 L.Ed.2d 697



United States

No. 69

United States Supreme Court

March 28, 1960

Argued January 21, 1960




1. While petitioner was in an apartment which he testified later was not his, but that of a friend who permitted him to use it, the apartment was searched by federal officers armed with a search warrant, narcotics were found and seized, and petitioner was arrested and charged with violating the narcotics laws. He moved to suppress the evidence so seized on the ground that the search was illegal. Held: Petitioner was a "person aggrieved" within the meaning of Rule 41 (e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and he had standing to make the motion under that Rule. Pp. 260-267.

2. Issuance of the search warrant here involved was based solely on an affidavit by a federal narcotics officer reciting that: (1) he had received information from an unnamed informer that petitioner and another person were involved in illicit narcotics traffic and kept a supply of heroin on hand in the apartment and that the informer had purchased narcotics from them in the apartment; (2) information previously received from this informer had been correct; (3) the same information had been received from other sources; (4) petitioner and his associate were known to be drug addicts; and (5) the affiant believed that illicit drugs were being secreted in the apartment by petitioner and another person. Held: This was sufficient evidence of probable cause to justify issuance of the search warrant. Pp. 267-272.

3. Without having done so in the District Court, petitioner attacked in the Court of Appeals the legality of the search, on the ground that the warrant was not executed in conformity with 18 U.S.C. § 3109. The Court of Appeals fully considered the claim, and rejected it. The Government did not contend that the issue was not properly before this Court. Held: The question is open to decision by this Court, but it cannot be resolved satisfactorily on the record. Therefore, the judgment of the Court of Appeals sustaining petitioner's conviction is vacated, and the case is remanded to the District Court to consider this issue. Pp. 272-273.

104 U.S. App. D. C. 345, 262 F.2d 234, judgment vacated and case remanded.

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FRANKFURTER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a prosecution for violation of federal narcotics laws. In the first count of a two-count indictment, petitioner was charged with having "purchased, sold, dispensed and distributed" narcotics in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 4704(a), that is, not in or from the "original stamped package." In the second count, petitioner was charged under 21 U.S.C. § 174, with having "facilitated the concealment and sale of" the same narcotics, knowing them to have been imported illegally into the United States. Petitioner was found guilty on both counts, and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. The Court of Appeals, one judge dissenting, affirmed the conviction. 104 U.S.App.D.C. 345, 262 F.2d 234. Since the case presented important questions in the administration of criminal justice, more particularly a defendant's standing to challenge the legality of a search in the circumstances of this case, as well as the legality of the particular search should standing be established, we granted certiorari. 359 U.S. 988.

Both statutory provisions under which petitioner was prosecuted permit conviction upon proof of the defendant's possession of narcotics, and, in the case of [80 S.Ct. 730] 26 U.S.C. § 4704(a), of the absence of the appropriate stamps. Possession was the basis of the Government's case against petitioner. The evidence against him may be briefly summarized. He was arrested in an apartment in the District of Columbia by federal narcotics officers, who

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were executing warrant to search for narcotics. Those officers found narcotics, without appropriate stamps, and narcotics paraphernalia in a bird's nest in an awning just outside a window in the apartment. Another officer, stationed outside the building, had a short time before seen petitioner put his hand on the awning. Upon the discovery of the narcotics and the paraphernalia, petitioner had admitted to the officers that some of these were his and that he was living in the apartment.

Prior to trial, petitioner duly moved to suppress the evidence obtained through the execution of the search warrant on the ground that the warrant had been issued without a showing of probable cause. The Government challenged petitioner's standing to make this motion because petitioner alleged neither ownership of the seized articles nor an interest in the apartment greater than that of an "invitee or guest." The District Court agreed to take evidence on the issue of petitioner's standing. Only petitioner gave evidence. On direct examination, he testified that the apartment belonged to a friend, Evans, who had given him the use of it, and a key, with which petitioner had admitted himself on the day of the arrest. On cross-examination, petitioner testified that he had a suit and shirt at the apartment, that his home was elsewhere, that he paid nothing for the use of the apartment, that Evans had let him use it "as a friend," that he had slept there "maybe a night," and that, at the time of the search, Evans had been away in Philadelphia for about five days.

Solely on the basis of petitioner's lack of standing to make it, the district judge denied petitioner's motion to suppress. When the case came on for trial before a different judge, the motion to suppress was renewed and was denied on the basis of the prior ruling. An unsuccessful objection was made when the seized items were offered in evidence at the trial.

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In affirming petitioner's conviction, the Court of Appeals agreed with the District Court that petitioner lacked standing, but proceeded to rule that, even if it were to find that petitioner had standing, it would hold the evidence to have been lawfully received. A challenge to the search which petitioner had not made in the District Court, namely, that the method of executing the warrant had been illegal, was considered by the Court of Appeals and rejected, while the contention petitioner had made below, that there had been insufficient cause to issue the warrant, was rejected without discussion.

The issue of petitioner's standing is to be decided with reference to Rule 41(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. This is a statutory direction governing the suppression of evidence acquired in violation of the conditions validating a search. It is desirable to set forth the Rule.

A person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure may move the district court for the district in which the property was seized for the return of the property and to suppress for use as evidence anything so obtained on the ground that (1) the property was illegally seized without warrant, or (2) the warrant is insufficient on its face, or (3) property seized is not that described in the warrant, or (4) there was not probable cause for believing the existence of the grounds on which the warrant was issued, or (5) the warrant was illegally executed. The judge shall receive evidence on any issue of fact necessary to the decision of the motion. If the motion is granted, the property shall be restored [80 S.Ct. 731] unless otherwise subject to lawful detention, and it shall not be admissible in evidence at any hearing or trial. The motion to suppress evidence may also be made in the district where the trial is to be had. The motion shall be made before trial or hearing unless opportunity

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therefor did not exist or the defendant was not aware of the grounds for the motion, but the court in its discretion may entertain the motion at the trial or hearing.

In order to qualify as a "person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure," one must have been a victim of a search or seizure, one against whom the search was directed, as distinguished from one who claims prejudice only through the use of evidence gathered as a consequence of a search or seizure directed at someone else. Rule 41(e) applies the general principle that a party will not be heard to claim a constitutional protection unless he "belongs to the class for whose sake the constitutional protection is given." Hatch v. Reardon, 204 U.S. 152, 160. The restrictions upon searches and seizures were obviously designed for protection against official invasion of privacy and the security of property. They are not exclusionary provisions against the admission of kinds of evidence deemed inherently unreliable or prejudicial. The exclusion in federal trials of evidence otherwise competent but gathered by federal officials in violation of the Fourth Amendment is a means for making effective the protection of privacy.

Ordinarily, then, it is entirely proper to require of one who seeks to challenge the legality of a search as the basis for suppressing relevant evidence that he allege, and if the allegation be disputed that he establish, that he himself was the victim of an invasion of privacy. But prosecutions like this one have presented a special problem. To establish "standing," Courts of Appeals have generally required that the movant claim either to have owned or possessed the seized property or to have had a substantial possessory interest in the premises searched. Since narcotics charges like those in the present indictment may be established through proof solely of possession of narcotics, a defendant seeking to comply with what has

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been the conventional standing requirement has been forced to allege facts the proof of which would tend, if indeed not be sufficient, to convict him. At the least, such a defendant...

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