470 U.S. 811 (1985), 83-6766, Hayes v. Florida

Docket Nº:No. 83-6766
Citation:470 U.S. 811, 105 S.Ct. 1643, 84 L.Ed.2d 705, 53 U.S.L.W. 4382
Party Name:Hayes v. Florida
Case Date:March 20, 1985
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 811

470 U.S. 811 (1985)

105 S.Ct. 1643, 84 L.Ed.2d 705, 53 U.S.L.W. 4382

Hayes

v.

Florida

No. 83-6766

United States Supreme Court

March 20, 1985

Argued January 9, 1985

CERTIORARI TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF FLORIDA,

SECOND DISTRICT

Syllabus

After concluding that petitioner was the principal suspect in a burglary-rape committed in Punta Gorda, Florida, the police, without a warrant, went to his home to obtain fingerprints. Arriving at the home, the police spoke to petitioner on his front porch, and when he expressed reluctance to accompany them to the station house, one officer said that they would arrest him. Petitioner replied that he would rather go to the station than be arrested. He was then taken to the station and fingerprinted. When it was determined that his prints matched those taken at the scene of the crime, he was arrested. The trial court denied his pretrial motion to suppress the fingerprint evidence, and he was convicted. The Florida District Court of Appeal affirmed, holding, although finding neither consent by petitioner to be taken to the station nor probable cause to arrest, that the police could transport petitioner to the station house and take his fingerprints on the basis of their reasonable suspicion that he was involved in the crime.

Held: Where there was no probable cause to arrest petitioner, no consent to the journey to the police station, and no prior judicial authorization for detaining him, the investigative detention at the station for fingerprinting purposes violated petitioner's rights under the Fourth Amendment, as made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth; hence, the fingerprints taken were the inadmissible fruits of an illegal detention. Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721. When the police, without probable cause or a warrant, forcibly remove a person from his home and transport him to the station, where he is detained, although briefly, for investigative purposes, such a seizure, at least where not under judicial supervision, is sufficiently like an arrest to invoke the traditional rule that arrests may constitutionally be made only on probable cause. Pp. 813-817.

439 So.2d 896, reversed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and REHNQUIST STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 818. BLACKMUN, J., concurred in the judgment. POWELL, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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WHITE, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The issue before us in this case is whether the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, applicable to the States by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment, was properly applied by the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, to allow police to transport a suspect to the [105 S.Ct. 1645] station house for fingerprinting, without his consent and without probable cause or prior judicial authorization.

A series of burglary-rapes occurred in Punta Gorda, Florida, in 1980. Police found latent fingerprints on the doorknob of the bedroom of one of the victims, fingerprints they believed belonged to the assailant. The police also found a herringbone pattern tennis shoe print near the victim's front porch. Although they had little specific information to tie petitioner Hayes to the crime, after police interviewed him along with 30 to 40 other men who generally fit the description of the assailant, the investigators came to consider petitioner a principal suspect. They decided to visit petitioner's home to obtain his fingerprints or, if he was uncooperative, to arrest him. They did not seek a warrant authorizing this procedure.

Arriving at petitioner's house, the officers spoke to petitioner on his front porch. When he expressed reluctance voluntarily to accompany them to the station for fingerprinting, one of the investigators explained that they would therefore arrest him. Petitioner, in the words of the investigator, then "blurted out" that he would rather go with the officers to the station than be arrested. App. 20. While the officers were on the front porch, they also seized a pair of herringbone pattern tennis shoes in plain view.

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Petitioner was then taken to the station house, where he was fingerprinted. When police determined that his prints matched those left at the scene of the crime, petitioner was placed under formal arrest. Before trial, petitioner moved to suppress the fingerprint evidence, claiming it was the fruit of an illegal detention. The trial court denied the motion and admitted the evidence without expressing a reason. Petitioner was convicted of the burglary and sexual battery committed at the scene where the latent fingerprints were found.

The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, affirmed the conviction. 439 So.2d 896 (1983). The court declined to find consent, reasoning that, in view of the threatened arrest, it was, "at best, highly questionable" that Hayes voluntarily accompanied the officers to the station. Id. at 898. The court also expressly found that the officers did not have probable cause to arrest petitioner until after they obtained his fingerprints. Id. at 899. Nevertheless, although finding neither consent nor probable cause, the court held, analogizing to the stop-and-frisk rule of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), that the officers could transport petitioner to the station house and take his fingerprints on the basis of their reasonable suspicion that he was involved in the crime. 439 So.2d at 899, 904.

The Florida Supreme Court denied review by a four-to-three decision, 447 So.2d 886 (1983). We granted certiorari to review this application of Terry, 469 U.S. 816 (1984), and we now reverse.

We agree with petitioner that Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721 (1969), requires reversal of the judgment below. In Davis, in the course of investigating a rape, police officers brought petitioner Davis to police headquarters on December 3, 1965. He was fingerprinted and briefly questioned before being released. He was later charged and convicted of the rape. An issue there was whether the fingerprints taken on December 3 were the inadmissible fruits of an illegal detention. Concededly, the police at that time were without probable

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cause for an arrest, there was no warrant, and Davis had not consented to being taken to the station house. The State nevertheless contended that the Fourth Amendment did not forbid an investigative detention for the purpose of fingerprinting, even in the absence of probable cause or a warrant. We rejected that submission, holding that Davis' detention for the purpose of fingerprinting was subject to the constraints of the Fourth Amendment and exceeded the permissible limits of those temporary seizures authorized by Terry v. Ohio, supra. [105 S.Ct. 1646] This was so even though fingerprinting, because it involves neither repeated harassment nor any of the probing into private life and thoughts that often marks interrogation and search, represents a much less serious intrusion upon personal security than other types of searches and detentions. 394 U.S. at 727. Nor was it a sufficient answer to the Fourth Amendment issue to recognize that fingerprinting is an inherently more reliable and effective crime-solving mechanism than other types of evidence such as lineups and confessions. Ibid. The Court indicated that perhaps, under narrowly confined circumstances, a detention for fingerprinting on less than probable cause might comply with the Fourth Amendment, but found it unnecessary to decide that question, since no...

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