439 U.S. 128 (1978), 77-5781, Rakas v. Illinois

Docket Nº:No. 77-5781
Citation:439 U.S. 128, 99 S.Ct. 421, 58 L.Ed.2d 387
Party Name:Rakas v. Illinois
Case Date:December 05, 1978
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 128

439 U.S. 128 (1978)

99 S.Ct. 421, 58 L.Ed.2d 387

Rakas

v.

Illinois

No. 77-5781

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 5, 1978

Argued October 3, 1978

CERTIORARI TO THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS,

THIRD DIVISION

Syllabus

After receiving a robbery report, police stopped the suspected getaway car, which the owner was driving and in which petitioners were passengers. Upon searching the car, the police found a box of rifle shells in the glove compartment and a sawed-off rifle under the front passenger seat and arrested petitioners. Subsequently, petitioners were convicted in an Illinois court of armed robbery at a trial in which the rifle and shells were admitted as evidence. Before trial petitioners had moved to suppress the rifle and shells on Fourth Amendment grounds, but the trial court denied the motion on the ground that petitioners lacked standing to object to the lawfulness of the search of the car because they concededly did not own either the car or the rifle and shells. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed.

Held:

1. "Fourth Amendment rights are personal rights which . . . may not be vicariously asserted," Alderman v. United States, 394 U.S. 165, 174, and a person aggrieved by an illegal search and seizure only through the introduction of damaging evidence secured by a search of a third person's premises or property has not had any of his Fourth Amendment rights infringed. The rule of standing to raise vicarious Fourth Amendment claims should not be extended by a so-called "target" theory, whereby any criminal defendant at whom a search was "directed" would have standing to contest the legality of that search and object to the admission at trial of evidence obtained as a result of the search. Pp. 133-138.

2. [99 S.Ct. 423] In any event, the better analysis of the principle that Fourth Amendment rights are personal rights that may not be asserted vicariously should focus on the extent of a particular defendant's rights under that Amendment, rather than on any theoretically separate but invariably intertwined concept of standing. Pp. 138-140.

3. The phrase "legitimately on premises" coined in Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257, creates "too broad a gauge" for measurement of Fourth Amendment rights. The holding in Jones can best be explained by the fact that Jones had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the premises he was using, and therefore could claim the protection of the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 140-148.

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4. Petitioners, who asserted neither a property nor a possessory interest in the automobile searched nor an interest in the property seized, and who failed to show that they had any legitimate expectation of privacy in the glove compartment or area under the seat of the car in which they were merely passengers, were not entitled to challenge a search of those areas. Jones v. United States, supra; Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, distinguished. Pp. 148-149.

46 Ill.App.3d 569, 360 N.E.2d 1252, affirmed.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, POWELL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., joined, post, p. 150. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 156.

REHNQUIST, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioners were convicted of armed robbery in the Circuit Court of Kankakee County, Ill., and their convictions were affirmed on appeal. At their trial, the prosecution offered into evidence a sawed-off rifle and rifle shells that had been seized by police during a search of an automobile in which petitioners had been passengers. Neither petitioner is the owner of the automobile, and neither has ever asserted that he owned the rifle or shells seized. The Illinois Appellate Court held that petitioners lacked standing to object to the allegedly

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unlawful search, and seizure and denied their motion to suppress the evidence. We granted certiorari in light of the obvious importance of the issues raised to the administration of criminal justice, 435 U.S. 922 (1978), and now affirm.

I

Because we are not here concerned with the issue of probable cause, a brief description of the events leading to the search of the automobile will suffice. A police officer on a routine patrol received a radio call notifying him of a robbery of a clothing store in Bourbonnais, Ill., and describing the getaway car. Shortly thereafter, the officer spotted an automobile which he thought might be the getaway car. After following the car for some time and after the arrival of assistance, he and several other officers stopped the vehicle. The occupants of the automobile, petitioners and two female companions, were ordered out of the car, and, after the occupants had left the car, two officers searched the interior of the vehicle. They discovered a box of rifle shells in the glove compartment, which had been locked, and a sawed-off rifle under the front passenger seat. App. 111. After discovering the rifle and the shells, the officers took petitioners to the station and placed them under arrest.

Before trial petitioners moved to suppress the rifle and shells seized from the car on the ground that the search violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. They conceded that they did not own the automobile, and were simply passengers; the owner of the car had been the driver of the vehicle at the time of the search. Nor did they assert that they owned the rifle or [99 S.Ct. 424] the shells seized.1 The prosecutor

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challenged petitioners' standing to object to the lawfulness of the search of the car because neither the car, the shells nor the rifle belonged to them. The trial court agreed that petitioners lacked standing, and denied the motion to suppress the evidence. App. 224. In view of this holding, the court did not determine whether there was probable cause for the search and seizure. On appeal after petitioners' conviction, the Appellate Court of Illinois, Third Judicial District, affirmed the trial court's denial of petitioners' motion to suppress because it held that,

without a proprietary or other similar interest in an automobile, a mere passenger therein lacks standing to challenge the legality of the search of the vehicle.

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46 Ill.App.3d 569, 571, 360 N.E.2d 1252, 1253 (1977). The court stated:

We believe that defendants failed to establish any prejudice to their own constitutional rights, because they were not persons aggrieved by the unlawful search and seizure. . . . They wrongly seek to establish prejudice only through the use of evidence gathered as a consequence of a search and seizure directed at someone else, and fail to prove an invasion of their own privacy. Alderman v. United States (1969), 394 U.S. 165. . . .

Id. at 571-572, 360 N.E.2d at 1254. The Illinois Supreme Court denied petitioners leave to appeal.

II

Petitioners first urge us to relax or broaden the rule of standing enunciated in Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257 (1960), so that any criminal defendant at whom a search was "directed" would have standing to contest the legality of that search and object to the admission at trial of evidence obtained as a result of the search. Alternatively, petitioners argue that they have standing to object to the search under Jones because they were "legitimately on [the] premises" at the time of the search.

The concept of standing discussed in Jones focuses on whether the person seeking to challenge the legality of a search as a basis for suppressing evidence was himself the "victim" of the search or seizure. Id. at 261.2 Adoption of

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the so-called "target" theory advanced by petitioners [99 S.Ct. 425] would, in effect, permit a defendant to assert that a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of a third party entitled him to have evidence suppressed at his trial. If we reject petitioners' request for a broadened rule of standing such as this, and reaffirm the holding of Jones and other cases that Fourth Amendment rights are personal rights that may not be asserted vicariously, we will have occasion to reexamine the "standing" terminology emphasized in Jones. For we are not at all sure that the determination of a motion to suppress is materially aided by labeling the inquiry identified in Jones as one of standing, rather than simply recognizing it as one involving the substantive question of whether or not the proponent of the motion to suppress has had his own Fourth Amendment rights infringed by the search and seizure which he seeks to challenge. We shall therefore consider, in turn, petitioners' target theory, the necessity for continued adherence to the notion of standing discussed in Jones as a concept that is theoretically distinct from the merits of a defendant's Fourth Amendment claim, and, finally, the proper disposition of petitioners' ultimate claim in this case.

A

We decline to extend the rule of standing in Fourth Amendment cases in the manner suggested by petitioners. As we stated in Alderman v. United States, 394 U.S. 165, 174 (1969), "Fourth Amendment rights are personal rights which, like some other constitutional rights, may not be vicariously

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asserted." See Brown v. United States, 411 U.S. 223, 230 (1973); Simmons v. United States, 390 U.S. 377, 389 (1968); Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 492 (1963); cf. Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S. 505, 511 (1961); Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298, 304 (1921). A person who is aggrieved by an illegal search and seizure only through the introduction of damaging evidence secured by a search of a third person's premises or property has not...

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