443 U.S. 31 (1979), 77-1680, Michigan v. DeFillippo

Docket Nº:No. 77-1680
Citation:443 U.S. 31, 99 S.Ct. 2627, 61 L.Ed.2d 343
Party Name:Michigan v. DeFillippo
Case Date:June 25, 1979
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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443 U.S. 31 (1979)

99 S.Ct. 2627, 61 L.Ed.2d 343

Michigan

v.

DeFillippo

No. 77-1680

United States Supreme Court

June 25, 1979

Argued February 21, 1979

CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MICHIGAN

Syllabus

At 10 o'clock at night, Detroit police officers found respondent in an alley with a [99 S.Ct. 2629] woman who was in the process of lowering her slacks. When asked for identification, respondent gave inconsistent and evasive responses. He was then arrested for violation of a Detroit ordinance which provides that a police officer may stop and question an individual if he has reasonable cause to believe that the individual's "behavior . . . warrants further investigation" for criminal activity, and further provides that it is unlawful for any person so stopped to refuse to identify himself and produce evidence of his identity. In a search which followed, the officers discovered drugs on respondent's person, and he was charged with a drug offense but not with violation of the ordinance. The trial court denied his motion to suppress the evidence obtained in the search. The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Detroit ordinance was unconstitutionally vague, that both the arrest and search were invalid because respondent had been arrested pursuant to that ordinance, and that the evidence obtained in the search should have been suppressed on federal constitutional grounds even though it was obtained as a result of an arrest pursuant to a presumptively valid ordinance.

Held: Respondent's arrest, made in good faith reliance on the Detroit ordinance, which at the time had not been declared unconstitutional, was valid regardless of the subsequent judicial determination of its unconstitutionality, and therefore the drugs obtained in the search should not have been suppressed. Pp. 350.

(a) Under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, an arresting officer may, without a warrant, search a person validly arrested. The fact of a lawful arrest, standing alone, authorizes a search. Pp. 35-36.

(b) The Constitution permits an officer to arrest a suspect without a warrant if there is probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed or is committing an offense. Here, the arresting officer had abundant probable cause to believe that respondent's conduct violated the ordinance: respondent's presence with a woman in the circumstances described clearly was "behavior warrant[ing] further investigation"

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under the ordinance, and respondent's responses to the request for identification constituted a refusal to identify himself as the ordinance required. Pp. 36-37.

(c) Under these circumstances, the arresting officer did not lack probable cause simply because he should have known the ordinance was invalid and would be judicially declared unconstitutional. A prudent officer, in the course of determining whether respondent had committed an offense under such circumstances, should not have been required to anticipate that a court would later hold the ordinance unconstitutional. Pp. 37-38.

(d) Since the arrest under the presumptively valid ordinance was valid, the search which followed was valid because it was incidental to that arrest. Torres v. Puerto Rico, 442 U.S. 465; Almeida-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U.S. 266; Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40; and Berger v. New York, 388 U.S. 41, distinguished. Pp. 39-40.

80 Mich.App. 197, 26 N.W.2d 921, reversed and remanded.

BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 40. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 41.

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BURGER, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question presented by this case is whether an arrest made in good faith reliance on an ordinance, which at the time had not been declared unconstitutional, is valid regardless of a subsequent judicial determination of its unconstitutionality.

I

At approximately 10 p.m. on September 14, 1976, Detroit police officers on duty in a patrol car received a radio call to investigate two persons reportedly appearing to be intoxicated in an alley. When they arrived at the alley, they found respondent and a young woman. The woman was in the process of lowering her slacks. One of the officers asked what they were doing, and the woman replied that she was about to relieve herself. The officer then asked respondent for identification; respondent asserted that he was Sergeant Mash, of the Detroit Police Department; he also purported to give his badge number, but the officer was unable to hear it. When respondent again was asked for identification, he changed his answer and said either that he worked for or that he knew Sergeant Mash. Respondent did not appear to be intoxicated.

Section 39-1-52.3 of the Code of the City of Detroit provides that a police officer may stop and question an individual if he has reasonable cause to believe that the individual's behavior warrants further investigation for criminal activity. In 1976, the Detroit Common Council amended § 39-1-52.3 to provide that it should be unlawful for any person stopped pursuant thereto to refuse to identify himself and produce evidence of his identity.1

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When he failed to identify himself, respondent was taken into custody for violation of § 39-1-52.3;2 he was searched by one of the officers, who found a package of marihuana in one of respondent's shirt pockets and a tinfoil packet secreted inside a cigarette package in the other. The tinfoil packet subsequently was opened at the station; an analysis established that it contained phencyclidine, another controlled substance.

Respondent was charged with possession of the controlled substance phencyclidine. At the preliminary examination, he moved to suppress the evidence obtained in the search following the arrest; the trial court denied the motion. The Michigan Court of Appeals allowed an interlocutory appeal and reversed. It held that the Detroit ordinance, § 39-1-52.3, was unconstitutionally vague, and concluded that, since respondent had been arrested pursuant to that ordinance, both the arrest and the search were invalid.

The court expressly rejected the contention that an arrest made in good faith reliance on a presumptively valid ordinance is valid regardless of whether the ordinance subsequently is declared unconstitutional. Accordingly, the Michigan Court of Appeals remanded with instructions to suppress the evidence

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and quash the information. 80 Mich.App. 197, 262 N.W.2d 921 (1977).

The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. We granted certiorari, 439 U.S. 816 (1978), to review the Michigan court's holding that evidence should be suppressed on federal constitutional grounds, although it was [99 S.Ct. 2631] obtained as a result of an arrest pursuant to a presumptively valid ordinance. That holding was contrary to the holdings of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that such arrests are valid. See United States v. Carden, 529 F.2d 443 (1976); United States v. Kilgen, 445 F.2d 287 (1971).

II

Respondent was not charged with or tried for violation of the Detroit ordinance. The State contends that, because of the violation of the ordinance, i.e., refusal to identify himself, which respondent committed in the presence of the officers, respondent was subject to a valid arrest. The search that followed being incidental to that arrest, the State argues that it was equally valid, and the drugs found should not have been suppressed. Respondent contends that, since the ordinance which he was arrested for violating has been found unconstitutionally vague on its face, the arrest and search were invalid as violative of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Accordingly, he contends the drugs found in the search were correctly suppressed.

Under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, an arresting officer may, without a warrant, search a person validly arrested. United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218 (1973); Gustafson v. Florida, 414 U.S. 260 (1973). The constitutionality of a search incident to an arrest does not depend on whether there is any indication that the person arrested possesses weapons...

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