38 456 Gustafson v. Florida 8212 1669, No. 71

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtREHNQUIST
Citation94 S.Ct. 488,414 U.S. 260
Docket NumberNo. 71
Decision Date11 December 1973
Parties. 38 L.Ed.2d 456 James E. GUSTAFSON, Petitioner, v. State of FLORIDA. —1669

414 U.S. 260
94 S.Ct. 488.
38 L.Ed.2d 456
James E. GUSTAFSON, Petitioner,

v.

State of FLORIDA.

No. 71—1669.
Argued Oct. 9, 1973.
Decided Dec. 11, 1973.

Syllabus

During the course of a patdown search of the person of petitioner, who had been arrested for not having his driver's license in his possession, the arresting officer seized marihuana cigarettes, for the unlawful possession of which petitioner was subsequently tried and convicted. The State Supreme Court upheld the conviction, concluding that the search leading to the discovery of the marihuana, which was used as evidence in petitioner's trial, was not unreasonable.

Held: The full search of the person of the suspect made incident to a lawful custodial arrest did not violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 94 S.Ct. 467, 38 L.Ed.2d 427, and it is of no constitutional significance that, contrary to the situation in Robinson, police regulations did not require that petitioner be taken into custody or establish the conditions under which a full-scale body search should be conducted, nor, as in Robinson, is it relevant that the arresting officer had no subjective fear of petitioner or suspicion that he was armed, since it is the fact of custodial arrest that gives rise to the authority to search. Pp. 263—266.

258 So.2d 1, affirmed.

James M. Russ, Orlando, Fla., for petitioner.

Barry Scott Richard, Miami, Fla., for respondent.

Page 261

Mr. Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner James Gustafson was convicted in a Florida trial court for unlawful possession of marihuana. At his trial the State introduced into evidence marihuana which had been seized from him during a search incident to his arrest on a charge of driving without possession of an operator's license. The District Court of Appeals of Florida, Fourth District, reversed petitioner's conviction, holding that the search which had led to the discovery of the marihuana was unreasonable under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. 243 So.2d 615 (1971). The Supreme Court of Florida in turn reversed that decision, State v. Gustafson, 258 So.2d 1 (1972), and petitioner sought certiorari in this Court. We granted certiorari, 410 U.S. 982, 93 S.Ct. 1494, 36 L.Ed.2d 177 (1973), and set the case for argument with United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 94 S.Ct. 467, 38 L.Ed.2d 427 also decided today. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida.

At approximately 2 a.m., on January 12, 1969, Lieutenant Paul R. Smith, a uniformed municipal police officer of Eau Gallie, Florida, was on a routine patrol in an unmarked squad car when he observed a 1953 white Cadillac, bearing New York license plates, driving

Page 262

south through the town. Smith observed the automobile weave across the center line and back to the right side of the road 'three or four' times. Smith testified that be observed the two occupants of the Cadillac look back; after they apparently saw the squad car, the car drove across the highway and behind a grocery store, and then headed south on another city street.

At that point Smith turned on his flashing light and ordered the Cadillac over to the side of the road. After stopping the vehicle, Smith asked petitioner, the driver, to produce his operator's license. Petitioner informed Smith that he was a student and that he had left his operator's license in his dormitory room in the neighboring city of Melbourne, Florida. Petitioner was then placed under arrest for failure to have his vehicle operator's license in his possession. It was conceded by the parties below and in this Court that the officer had probable cause to arrest upon learning that petitioner did not have his license in his possession, and that he took petitioner into custody in order to transport him to the stationhouse for further inquiry.1

Smith then proceeded to search the petitioner's person. Smith testified that he patted down the clothing of the petitioner, 'outside and inside, I checked the belt, the shirt pockets and all around the belt, completely around inside.' Upon completing his patdown, he testified, he placed his hand into the left front coat pocket of the coat petitioner was wearing. From that pocket he extracted a 'long chain' and a Benson and Hedges cigarette box. Smith testified that he then 'opened (the cigarette box) and it appeared there were marihuana cigarettes in the box.2 I had been shown this in training

Page 263

at the police department and these appeared to be marihuana to me.'

I

Petitioner urges that there could be no evidentiary purpose for the search conducted by Smith, and therefore the authority to search for weapons incident to a lawful arrest is controlled by the standards laid down in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968). Petitioner contends that this case is different from United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 94 S.Ct. 467, 38 L.Ed.2d 427, in that petitioner had experienced no previous encounters with the officer in this case, and the offense for which he was arrested was 'benign or trivial in nature,' carrying with it no mandatory minimum sentence as did the offense for which Robinson was arrested. Petitioner points out that here, unlike Robinson, there were no police regulations which required the officer to take petitioner into custody, nor were there police department policies requiring full-scale body searches upon arrest in the field. Petitioner also points to the fact that here, as in Robinson the officer expressed no fear for his own well-being or for that of others in dealing with the petitioner.

We have held today in United States v. Robinson that '(i)t is the fact of the lawful arrest which establishes the

Page 264

authority to search, and . . . in the case of a lawful custodial arrest a full search of the person is not only an exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment, but is also a 'reasonable' search under that Amendment.' 414 U.S., at 235, 94 S.Ct., at 477. Our decision in Robinson indicates that the limitations placed by Terry v. Ohio, supra, on protective searches conducted in an investigatory stop situation based on less than probable cause are not to be carried over to searches made incident to lawful custodial arrests. We stated in Robinson:

'The justification or reason for the authority to search incident to a lawful arrest...

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566 practice notes
  • New York v. Belton, No. 80-328
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • July 1, 1981
    ...121 (Fla.App.1979). 2. The validity of the custodial arrest of Belton has not been questioned in this case. Cf. Gustafson v. Florida, 414 U.S. 260, 266, 94 S.Ct. 488, 492, 38 L.Ed.2d 456 (concurring opinion). 3. Our holding today does no more than determine the meaning of Chimel § principle......
  • Evans v. Solomon, No. 06-CV-3284 (SLT)(LB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • January 19, 2010
    ...to arrest permissible where defendant was lawfully arrested for driving after revocation of his license); see also Gustafson v. Florida, 414 U.S. 260, 266, 94 S.Ct. 488, 38 L.Ed.2d 456 (1973) (search permissible where defendant arrested for driving without a license, after officer stopped v......
  • United States v. Venizelos, No. 80 Cr. 282.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • August 6, 1980
    ...S.Ct. 1234, 1237, 39 L.Ed.2d 771 (1974) (emphasis added). See id. at 803 n.4, 94 S.Ct. at 1237 n.4 (citing cases); Gustafson v. Florida, 414 U.S. 260, 263-64, 94 S.Ct. 488, 491, 38 L.Ed.2d 456 (1973); United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 224, 94 S.Ct. 467, 471, 38 L.Ed.2d 427 (1973); se......
  • United States v. Jenkins, No. 691
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • April 5, 1974
    ...similar circumstances, a search incident to the arrest of a person for driving without a valid license. See, also, Gustafson v. Florida, 414 U.S. 260, 94 S.Ct. 488, 38 L.Ed.2d 456 (1973). The present case is even stronger than Robinson, since it involves more than a routine traffic arrest. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
565 cases
  • New York v. Belton, No. 80-328
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • July 1, 1981
    ...121 (Fla.App.1979). 2. The validity of the custodial arrest of Belton has not been questioned in this case. Cf. Gustafson v. Florida, 414 U.S. 260, 266, 94 S.Ct. 488, 492, 38 L.Ed.2d 456 (concurring opinion). 3. Our holding today does no more than determine the meaning of Chimel § principle......
  • Evans v. Solomon, No. 06-CV-3284 (SLT)(LB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • January 19, 2010
    ...to arrest permissible where defendant was lawfully arrested for driving after revocation of his license); see also Gustafson v. Florida, 414 U.S. 260, 266, 94 S.Ct. 488, 38 L.Ed.2d 456 (1973) (search permissible where defendant arrested for driving without a license, after officer stopped v......
  • United States v. Venizelos, No. 80 Cr. 282.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • August 6, 1980
    ...S.Ct. 1234, 1237, 39 L.Ed.2d 771 (1974) (emphasis added). See id. at 803 n.4, 94 S.Ct. at 1237 n.4 (citing cases); Gustafson v. Florida, 414 U.S. 260, 263-64, 94 S.Ct. 488, 491, 38 L.Ed.2d 456 (1973); United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 224, 94 S.Ct. 467, 471, 38 L.Ed.2d 427 (1973); se......
  • United States v. Jenkins, No. 691
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • April 5, 1974
    ...similar circumstances, a search incident to the arrest of a person for driving without a valid license. See, also, Gustafson v. Florida, 414 U.S. 260, 94 S.Ct. 488, 38 L.Ed.2d 456 (1973). The present case is even stronger than Robinson, since it involves more than a routine traffic arrest. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • List of Cases Referenced
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 28-1, March 1975
    • March 1, 1975
    ...94 S.Ct. 2485 (1974) Gertz v. Robert Welsh, Inc., 94 S.Ct. 2997 (1974) Gilmore v. Montgomery, 94 S.Ct. 2416 (1974)Gustafson v. Florida, 414 U.S. 260 (1973)Hamling v. United States, 94 S.Ct. 2887 (1974) Harris v. New York, 401 U.S. 222 (1971) Hess v. Indiana, 414 U.S. 105 (1973)Jacobellis v.......

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