Warden, Maryland Penitentiary v. Hayden, 480

Decision Date29 May 1967
Docket NumberNo. 480,480
Citation18 L.Ed.2d 782,87 S.Ct. 1642,387 U.S. 294
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Franklin Goldstein, Asst. Atty. Gen. of Maryland, for petitioner.

Albert R. Turnbull, Norfolk, Va., for respondent, pro hac vice, by special leave of Court.

Ralph S. Spritzer, Washington, D.C., for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

We review in this case the validity of the proposition that there is under the Fourth Amendment a 'distinction between merely evidentiary materials, on the one hand, which may not be seized either under the authority of a search warrant or during the course of a search incident to arrest, and on the other hand, those objects which may validly be seized including the instrumentalities and means by which a crime is committed, the fruits of crime such as stolen property, weapons by which escape of the person arrested might be effected, and property the possession of which is a crime.'1

A Maryland court sitting without a jury convicted respondent of armed robbery. Items of his clothing, a cap, jacket, and trousers, among other things, were seized during a search of his home, and were admitted in evidence without objection. After unsuccessful state court proceedings, he sought and was denied federal habeas corpus relief in the District Court for Maryland. 2 A divided panel of the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed. 363 F.2d 647. The Court of Appeals believed that Harris v. United States, 331 U.S. 145, 154, 67 S.Ct. 1098, 1103, 91 L.Ed. 1399, sustained the validity of the search, but held that respondent was correct in his contention that the clothing seized was improperly admitted in evidence because the items had 'evidential value only' and therefore were not lawfully subject to seizure. We granted certiorari. 385 U.S. 926, 87 S.Ct. 290, 17 L.Ed.2d 210. We reverse. 3


About 8 a.m. on March 17, 1962, an armed robber entered the business premises of the Diamond Cab Company in Baltimore, Maryland. He took some $363 and ran. Two cab drivers in the vicinity, attracted by shouts of 'Holdup,' followed the man to 2111 Cocoa Lane. One driver notified the company dispatcher by radio that the man was a Negro about 5 8 tall, wearing a light cap and dark jacket, and that he had entered the house on Cocoa Lane. The dispatcher relayed the information to police who were proceeding to the scene of the robbery. Within minutes, police arrived at the house in a number of patrol cars. An officer knocked and announced their presence. Mrs. Hayden answered, and the officers told her they believed that a robber had entered the house, and asked to search the house. She offered no objection.4

The officers spread out through the first and second floors and the cellar in search of the robber. Hayden was found in an upstairs bedroom feigning sleep. He was arrested when the officers on the first floor and in the cellar reported that no other man was in the house. Meanwhile an officer was attracted to an adjoining bathroom by the noise of running water, and discovered a shotgun and a pistol in a flush tank; another officer who, according to the District Court, 'was searching the cellar for a man or the money' found in a washing machine a jacket and trousers of the type the fleeing man was said to have worn. A clip of ammunition for the pistol and a cap were found under the mattress of Hayden's bed, and ammunition for the shotgun was found in a bureau drawer in Hayden's room. All these items of evidence were introduced against respondent at his trial.


We agree with the Court of Appeals that neither the entry without warrant to search for the robber, nor the search for him without warrant was invalid. Under the circumstances of this case, 'the exigencies of the situation made that course imperative.' McDonald v. United States, 335 U.S. 451, 456, 69 S.Ct. 191, 193, 93 L.Ed. 153. The police were informed that an armed robbery had taken place, and that the suspect had entered 2111 Cocoa Lane less than five minutes before they reached it. They acted reasonably when they entered the house and began to search for a man of the description they had been given and for weapons which he had used in the robbery or might use against them. The Fourth Amendment does not require police officers to delay in the course of an investigation if to do so would gravely endanger their lives or the lives of others. Speed here was essential, and only a thorough search of the house for persons and weapons could have insured that Hayden was the only man present and that the police had control of all weapons which could be used against them or to effect an escape.

We do not rely upon Harris v. United States, supra, in sustaining the validity of the search. The principal issue in Harris was whether the search there could properly be regarded as incident to the lawful arrest, since Harris was in custody before the search was made and the evidence seized. Here, the seizures occurred prior to or immediately contemporaneous with Hayden's arrest, as part of an effort to find a suspected felon, armed, within the house into which he had run only minutes before the police arrived. The permissible scope of search must, therefore, at the least, be as broad as may reasonably be necessary to prevent the dangers that the suspect at large in the house may resist or escape.

It is argued that, while the weapons, ammunition, and cap may have been seized in the course of a search for weapons, the officer who seized the clothing was searching neither for the suspect nor for weapons when he looked into the washing machine in which he found the clothing. But even if we assume, although we do not decide, that the exigent circumstances in this case made lawful a search without warrant only for the suspect or his weapons, it cannot be said on this record that the officer who found the clothes in the washing machine was not searching for weapons. He testified that he was searching for the man or the money, but his failure to state explicitly that he was searching for weapons, in the absence of a specific question to that effect, can hardly be accorded controlling weight. He knew that the robber was armed and he did not know that some weapons had been found at the time he opened the machine. 5 In these circumstances the inference that he was in fact also looking for weapons is fully justified.


We come, then, to the question whether, even though the search was lawful, the Court of Appeals was correct in holding that the seizure and introduction of the items of clothing violated the Fourth Amendment because they are 'mere evidence.' The distinction made by some of our cases between seizure of items of evidential value only and seizure of instrumentalities, fruits, or contraband has been criticized by courts6 and commentators.7 The Court of Appeals, however, felt 'obligated to adhere to it.' 363 F.2d, at 655. We today reject the distinction as based on premises no longer accepted as rules governing the application of the Fourth Amendment.8

We have examined on many occasions the history and purposes of the Amendment. 9 It was a reaction to the evils of the use of the general warrant in England and the writs of assistance in the Colonies, and was intended to protect against invasions of 'the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life,' Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 630, 6 S.Ct. 524, 532, 29 L.Ed. 746, from searches under indiscriminate, general authority. Protection of these interests was assured by prohibiting all 'unreasonable' searches and seizures, and by requiring the use of warrants, which particularly describe 'the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized,' thereby interposing 'a magistrate between the citizen and the police,' McDonald v. United States, supra, 335 U.S., at 455, 69 S.Ct., at 193.

Nothing in the language of the Fourth Amendment supports the distinction between 'mere evidence' and instrumentalities, fruits of crime, or contraband. On its face, the provision assures the 'right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects * * *,' without regard to the use to which any of these things are applied. This 'right of the people' is certainly unrelated to the 'mere evidence' limitation. Privacy is disturbed no more by a search directed to a purely evidentiary object than it is by a search directed to an instrumen- tality, fruit, or contraband. A magistrate can intervene in both situations, and the requirements of probable cause and specificity can be preserved intact. Moreover, nothing in the nature of property seized as evidence renders it more private than property seized, for example, as an instrumentality; quite the opposite may be true. Indeed, the distinction is wholly irrational, since, depending on the circumstances, the same 'papers and effects' may be 'mere evidence' in one case and 'instrumentality' in another. See Comment, 20 U.Chi.L.Rev. 319, 320—322 (1953).

In Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298, 309, 41 S.Ct. 261, 265, 65 L.Ed. 647, the Court said that search warrants 'may not be used as a means of gaining access to a man's house or office and papers solely for the purpose of making search to secure evidence to be used against him in a criminal or penal proceeding * * *.' The Court derived from Boyd v. United States, supra, the proposition that warrants 'may be resorted to only when a primary right to such search and seizure may be found in the interest which the public or the complainant may have in the property to be seized, or in the right to the possession of it, or when a valid exercise of the ol ice power renders possession of the property by the accused unlawful and provides that it may be taken,' 255 U.S., at 309, 41 S.Ct. at 265; that is, when the property is an instrumentality or fruit of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2694 cases
  • People v. Cooks
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • March 25, 1983
    ...evidence that tends to connect the defendant with a felony even if the evidence is not contraband. (Warden v. Hayden (1967) 387 U.S. 294, 300-308, 87 S.Ct. 1642, 1646-1650, 18 L.Ed.2d 782; People v. Thayer (1965) 63 Cal.2d 635, 47 Cal.Rptr. 780, 408 P.2d 108, cert. den., 384 U.S. 908, 86 S.......
  • People v. Laiwa
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • July 29, 1981
    ... ... 729, 478 P.2d 449, citing generally Warden v. Hayden, (1967) 387 U.S. 294, 300-310, 87 S.Ct. 1642, ... ...
  • State v. Richards
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • April 17, 1978
    ...of the person arrested might be effected, and property the possession of which is a crime," Warden, Maryland Penitentiary v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 295-296, 87 S.Ct. 1642, 1644, 18 L.Ed.2d 782 (1967), and cases there cited at n. 1; or were items for which probable cause existed to believe th......
  • People v. Sirhan
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • June 16, 1972
    ...2022, 29 L.Ed.2d 564; Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 761, 89 S.Ct. 2034, 23 L.Ed.2d 685.) Warden Md. Penitentiary v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 298--300, 87 S.Ct. 1642, 1645, 18 L.Ed.2d 782 held that 'the exigencies of the situation made (the course there followed) imperative.' In that case......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries
  • The Hackback Debate
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • November 13, 2012
    ...to the warrant clause (one of which is hot pursuit). See, e.g., Entick v. Carrington, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (K.B. 1765); Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294 (1967). Easement holders can't trespass, but that's because easements limit the property owner's usual right to What's the lesson from physical ......
98 books & journal articles
  • Warrantless administrative searches under environmental laws: the limits to EPA inspectors' statutory invitation.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 26 No. 3, September 1996
    • September 22, 1996
    ...search of automobile without warrant allowed because automobile contents may be relocated by time warrant obtained); Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294 (exigency of pursuit of suspected armed felon into house felon entered permitted warrantless entry and search). If none of these bases for a se......
  • Hiding in Plain Sight: a Fourth Amendment Framework for Analyzing Government Surveillance in Public
    • United States
    • Emory University School of Law Emory Law Journal No. 66-3, 2017
    • Invalid date
    ...U.S. 752, 762-63 (1969) (authorizing search of arrestee to search for weapons and prevent the destruction of evidence); Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 298-99 (1967) (hot pursuit).310. See infra Parts III.C, III.D. 311. Prouse, 440 U.S. at 659 n.18; see also Maryland v. King, 133 S. Ct. 195......
  • Search and Seizure: Property
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 1 - 2019 Contents
    • August 16, 2019
    ...warrantless arrest, they were justified in seizing evidence found in plain view in the apartment. Warden, Maryland Penitentiary v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 87 S.Ct. 1642, 18 L.Ed.2d 782 (1967); Fearance v. State, 771 S.W.2d 486 (Tex. Crim. App. 1988). An object coming into view during a search......
  • Search and Seizure: Property
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 1 - 2017 Contents
    • August 17, 2017
    ...warrantless arrest, they were justified in seizing evidence found in plain view in the apartment. Warden, Maryland Penitentiary v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 87 S.Ct. 1642, 18 L.Ed.2d 782 (1967); Fearance v. State, 771 S.W.2d 486 (Tex. Crim. App. 1988). An object coming into view during a search......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 provisions
  • Pennsylvania Bulletin, Vol 49, No. 12. March 23, 2019
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Register
    • Invalid date
    ...Co. 1962); and Simmons v. Oklahoma, 286 P.2d 296, 298 (Okla. Cr. 1955). Concerning the provisions of paragraph (3), see Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294 Paragraph (4) was added in 2019 to clarify that a person is a proper subject of a search warrant when the person is also the subject of an a......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT