571 F.2d 787 (4th Cir. 1978), 77-1826, United States v. Bradley

Docket Nº:77-1826.
Citation:571 F.2d 787
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. George L. BRADLEY, Appellant.
Case Date:February 23, 1978
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Page 787

571 F.2d 787 (4th Cir. 1978)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


George L. BRADLEY, Appellant.

No. 77-1826.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

February 23, 1978

Argued Nov. 8, 1977.

Robert B. Smith, III, Richmond, Va. (Hundley, Harris & Smith, Richmond, Va., on brief), for appellant.

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N. George Metcalf, Asst. U. S. Atty., and Alexandra E. Divine, Third Year Law Student, Richmond, Va., on brief, for appellee.

Before HAYNSWORTH, Chief Judge, WINTER, Circuit Judge, and FIELD, Senior Circuit Judge.

WINTER, Circuit Judge:

George Bradley was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(h)(1), which makes unlawful the receipt of a firearm by one previously convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. On appeal, Bradley contends that the five-year suspended sentence entered in his conviction should be reversed because the firearm found in his possession, and later introduced over objection at trial, was seized in the course of an unlawful search. Because we agree that the warrantless search of defendant's room by his parole officer was in violation of rights secured to him by the fourth amendment, we reverse.


In 1972, Bradley was convicted under the Virginia maiming statute, Va.Code § 18.2-51, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. In April 1976, he was released on parole and took up residence in a boarding house in Richmond, Virginia. The conditions of his parole included, inter alia, that he obey all federal, state and municipal laws, that he refrain from possessing any firearm without permission, and that he "permit (his) Parole Officer to visit (his) home or place of employment." Not included in the conditions of parole was consent to searches conducted during such visits.

In the early morning hours of October 9, 1976, Karen Murphy, Bradley's parole officer, received a series of calls from Bradley's landlady and her son (also a parolee) informing Murphy that Bradley was in possession of a loaded firearm. In order to determine if Bradley was in fact violating a condition of his parole, Murphy, accompanied by another parole officer, went to Bradley's boarding house at approximately nine o'clock in the morning, some six hours after receiving knowledge of the possible violation. Without securing either a search warrant or Bradley's consent, Murphy conducted a thorough search of Bradley's room. There, she found a loaded firearm wrapped in a shirt inside a suitcase which was located behind a door.

Murphy seized the weapon and delivered it to federal investigators who determined that the firearm had been transported in interstate commerce before coming into Bradley's possession. In addition to having his parole revoked by the Virginia Probation and Parole Board, Bradley was indicted and tried for violating the federal firearms laws. He was convicted on a single count. A five-year suspended sentence was imposed, and Bradley was placed on five years' probation to begin upon his release from state custody.

At trial, the district court denied defendant's motion to suppress the firearm as the fruit of an unlawful search. On appeal, Bradley's only assignment of error is the denial of this motion and the related refusal of the district court to exclude the firearm from evidence.


Bradley contends that the unconsented search of his room by parole officer Murphy was in violation of the fourth amendment for the reason that Murphy failed to secure a warrant prior to conducting the search. 1

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In arguing that a warrantless search was permissible, the...

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