376 U.S. 364 (1964), 163, Preston v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 163
Citation:376 U.S. 364, 84 S.Ct. 881, 11 L.Ed.2d 777
Party Name:Preston v. United States
Case Date:March 23, 1964
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 364

376 U.S. 364 (1964)

84 S.Ct. 881, 11 L.Ed.2d 777



United States

No. 163

United States Supreme Court

March 23, 1964

Argued February 25, 1964




Petitioner and two companions, who had been seated for several hours in a parked car, were arrested by the police for vagrancy, searched for weapons, and taken to the police station. The officers had the car towed to a garage, and soon thereafter they went themselves to the garage and, for the first time, searched the car. Various articles found in the car were later turned over to federal authorities and used as evidence in a trial in federal court resulting in petitioner's conviction of conspiracy to rob a federally insured bank.

Held: the evidence obtained in the search of the car without a warrant was inadmissible because, being too remote in time or place to be treated as incidental to the arrest, it failed to meet the test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 364-368.

305 F.2d 172 reversed and remanded.

BLACK, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner and three others were convicted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on a charge of conspiracy to rob a federally insured bank in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113, the conviction having been based largely on evidence obtained by the search of a motorcar. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting the contentions, timely made in the trial and appellate courts, that

Page 365

both the original arrest, on a charge of vagrancy, and the subsequent search and seizure had violated the Fourth Amendment. 305 F.2d 172. We granted certiorari. 373 U.S. 931. In the view we take of the case, we need not decide whether the arrest was valid, since we hold that the search and seizure was not.

The police of Newport, Kentucky, received a telephone complaint at 3 o'clock one morning that "three suspicious men acting suspiciously" had been seated in a motorcar parked in a business district since 10 o'clock the evening before. Four policemen straightaway went to the place where the car was parked and found petitioner and two companions. The officers asked the three men why they were parked there, but the men gave answers which the officers testified...

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