Payton v. New York Riddick v. New York

Decision Date26 March 1979
Docket NumberNos. 78-5420,78-5421,s. 78-5420
Citation63 L.Ed.2d 639,100 S.Ct. 1371,445 U.S. 573
PartiesTheodore PAYTON, Applicant, v. NEW YORK. Obie RIDDICK, Applicant, v. NEW YORK
CourtU.S. Supreme Court
Syllabus

These appeals challenge the constitutionality of New York statutes authorizing police officers to enter a private residence without a warrant and with force, if necessary, to make a routine felony arrest. In each of the appeals, police officers, acting with probable cause but without warrants, had gone to the appellant's residence to arrest the appellant on a felony charge and had entered the premises without the consent of any occupant. In each case, the New York trial judge held that the warrantless entry was authorized by New York statutes and refused to suppress evidence that was seized upon the entry. Treating both cases as involving routine arrests in which there was ample time to obtain a warrant, the New York Court of Appeals, in a single opinion, ultimately affirmed the convictions of both appellants.

Held : The Fourth Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits the police from making a warrantless and nonconsensual entry into a suspect's home in order to make a routine felony arrest. Pp. 583-603.

(a) The physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed. To be arrested in the home involves not only the invasion attendant to all arrests, but also an invasion of the sanctity of the home, which is too substantial an invasion to allow without a warrant, in the absence of exigent circumstances, even when it is accomplished under statutory authority and when probable cause is present. In terms that apply equally to seizures of property and to seizures of persons, the Fourth Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house. Absent exigent circumstances, that threshold may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant. Pp. 583-590.

(b) The reasons for upholding warrantless arrests in a public place, cf. United States v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411, 96 S.Ct. 820, 46 L.Ed.2d 598, do not apply to warrantless invasions of the privacy of the home. The common-law rule on warrantless home arrests was not as clear as the rule on arrests in public places; the weight of authority as it appeared to the Framers of the Fourth Amendment was to the effect that a warrant was required for a home arrest, or at the minimum that there were substantial risks in proceeding without one. Although a majority of the States that have taken a position on the question permit warrantless home arrests even in the absence of exigent circumstances, there is an obvious declining trend, and there is by no means the kind of virtual unanimity on this question that was present in United States v. Watson, supra, with regard to warrantless public arrests. And, unlike the situation in Watson no federal statutes have been cited to indicate any congressional determination that warrantless entries into the home are "reasonable." Pp. 590-601.

(c) For Fourth Amendment purposes, an arrest warrant founded on probable cause implicitly carries with it the limited authority to enter a dwelling in which the suspect lives when there is reason to believe the suspect is within. Pp. 602-603.

45 N.Y.2d 300, 408 N.Y.S.2d 395, 380 N.E.2d 224, reversed and remanded.

William E. Hellerstein, New York City, for appellant in both cases.

Peter L. Zimroth, New York City, for appellee in both cases.

Mr. Justice STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.

These appeals challenge the constitutionality of New York statutes that authorize police officers to enter a private residence without a warrant and with force, if necessary, to make a routine felony arrest.

The important constitutional question presented by this challenge has been expressly left open in a number of our prior opinions. In United States v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411, 96 S.Ct. 820, 46 L.Ed.2d 598, we upheld a warrantless "midday public arrest," expressly noting that the case did not pose "the still unsettled ques- tion . . . 'whether and under what circumstances an officer may enter a suspect's home to make a warrantless arrest.' " Id., at 418, n. 6, 96 S.Ct., at 825, n. 6.1 The question has been answered in different ways by other appellate courts. The Supreme Court of Florida rejected the constitutional attack,2 as did the New York Court of Appeals, 45 N.Y.2d 300, 408 N.Y.S.2d 395, 380 N.E.2d 224 in this case. The courts of last resort in 10 other States, however, have held that unless special circumstances are present, warrantless arrests in the home are unconstitutional.3 Of the seven United States Courts of Appeals that have considered the question, five have expressed the opinion that such arrests are unconstitutional.4 Last Term we noted probable jurisdiction of these appeals in order to address that question. 439 U.S. 1044, 99 S.Ct. 718, 58 L.Ed.2d 703. After hearing oral argument, we set the case for reargument this Term. 441 U.S. 930, 99 S.Ct. 2049, 60 L.Ed.2d 658. We now reverse the New York Court of Appeals and hold that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081; Wolf v. Colorado, 338 U.S. 25, 69 S.Ct. 1359, 93 L.Ed. 1782, prohibits the police from making a warrantless and nonconsensual entry into a suspect's home in order to make a routine felony arrest.

We first state the facts of both cases in some detail and put to one side certain related questions that are not presented by these records. We then explain why the New York statutes are not consistent with the Fourth Amendment and why the reasons for upholding warrantless arrests in a public place do not apply to warrantless invasions of the privacy of the home.

I

On January 14, 1970, after two days of intensive investigation, New York detectives had assembled evidence sufficient to establish probable cause to believe that Theodore Payton had murdered the manager of a gas station two days earlier. At about 7:30 a. m. on January 15, six officers went to Payton's apartment in the Bronx, intending to arrest him. They had not obtained a warrant. Although light and music emanated from the apartment, there was no response to their knock on the metal door. They summoned emergency assistance and, about 30 minutes later, used crowbars to break open the door and enter the apartment. No one was there. In plain view, however, was a .30-caliber shell casing that was seized and later admitted into evidence at Payton's murder trial.5

In due course Payton surrendered to the police, was indicted for murder, and moved to suppress the evidence taken from his apartment. The trial judge held that the warrantless and forcible entry was authorized by the New York Code of Criminal Procedure,6 and that the evidence in plain view was properly seized. He found that exigent circumstances justified the officers' failure to announce their purpose before entering the apartment as required by the statute.7 He had no occasion, however, to decide whether those circumstances also would have justified the failure to obtain a warrant, because he concluded that the warrantless entry was adequately supported by the statute without regard to the circumstances. The Appellate Division, First Department, summarily affirmed.8

On March 14, 1974, Obie Riddick was arrested for the commission of two armed robberies that had occurred in 1971. He had been identified by the victims in June 1973, and in January 1974 the police had learned his address. They did not obtain a warrant for his arrest. At about noon on March 14, a detective, accompanied by three other officers, knocked on the door of the Queens house where Riddick was living. When his young son opened the door, they could see Riddick sitting in bed covered by a sheet. They entered the house and placed him under arrest. Before permitting him to dress, they opened a chest of drawers two feet from the bed in search of weapons and found narcotics and related paraphernalia. Riddick was subsequently indicted on narcotics charges. At a suppression hearing, the trial judge held that the warrantless entry into his home was authorized by the revised New York statute,9 and that the search of the imme- diate area was reasonable under Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 89 S.Ct. 2034, 23 L.Ed.2d 685.10 The Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed the denial of the suppression motion.11

The New York Court of Appeals, in a single opinion, affirmed the convictions of both Payton and Riddick. 45 N.Y.2d 300, 408 N.Y.S.2d 395, 380 N.E.2d 224 (1978). The court recognized that the question whether and under what circumstances an officer may enter a suspect's home to make a warrantless arrest had not been settled either by that court or by this Court.12 In answering that question, the majority of four judges relied primarily on its perception that there is a

". . . substantial difference between the intrusion which attends an entry for the purpose of searching the premises and that which results from an entry for the purpose of making an arrest, and [a] significant difference in the governmental interest in achieving the objective of the intrusion in the two instances." Id., at 310, 408 N.Y.S.2d, at 399, 380 N.E.2d, at 228-229.13 The majority supported its holding by noting the "apparent historical acceptance" of warrantless entries to make felony arrests, both in the English common law and in the practice of many American States.14

Three members of the New York Court of Appeals dissented on this issue because they believed that the Constitution requires the police to obtain a "warrant to enter a home in order to arrest or seize a person, unless there are exigent circumstances." 15 Starting from the premise that, except in carefully circumscribed instances, "the Fourth Amendment forbids...

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