390 U.S. 234 (1968), 92, Harris v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 92
Citation:390 U.S. 234, 88 S.Ct. 992, 19 L.Ed.2d 1067
Party Name:Harris v. United States
Case Date:March 05, 1968
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 234

390 U.S. 234 (1968)

88 S.Ct. 992, 19 L.Ed.2d 1067

Harris

v.

United States

No. 92

United States Supreme Court

March 5, 1968

Argued January 18, 1968

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Pursuant to a departmental regulation, a police officer searched a impounded car held as evidence of a robbery. The search completed, the officer opened the car door for the purpose of rolling up a window and thus protecting the car and its contents. On opening the door, the officer saw, exposed to plain view, the automobile registration card belonging to the victim of the robbery. This card was used as evidence in petitioner's trial. Petitioner's conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals over his contention that the card had been illegally seized following a warrantless search.

Held: The card was subject to seizure and introducible in evidence, since it was not discovered by means of a search in the technical sense, but was plainly visible to the officer who had a right to be in a position of viewing it.

125 U.S.App.D.C. 231, 370 F.2d 477, affirmed.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

Petitioner was charged with robbery under the District of Columbia Code. D.C.Code Ann. § 22-2901. At his trial in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, petitioner moved to suppress an automobile registration card belonging to the robbery victim, which the Government sought to introduce in evidence. The trial court, after a hearing, ruled that the card was admissible. Petitioner was convicted of the crime charged and sentenced to [88 S.Ct. 993] imprisonment for a period of

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two to seven years. On appeal, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed, holding that the card had been. obtained by means of an unlawful search. The Government's petition for rehearing en banc was, however, granted, and the full Court of Appeals affirmed petitioner's conviction, with two judges dissenting. We granted certiorari to consider the problem presented under the Fourth Amendment. 386 U.S. 1003 (1967). We affirm.

Petitioner's automobile had been seen leaving the site of the robbery. The car was traced, and petitioner was arrested as he was entering it near his home. After a cursory search of the car, the arresting officer took petitioner to a police station. The police decided to impound the car as evidence, and a crane was called to tow it to the precinct. It reached the precinct about an hour and a quarter after petitioner. At this moment, the windows of the car were...

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