United States v. Lee
274 U.S. 559 (1927)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Lee, 274 U.S. 559 (1927)

United States v. Lee

No. 752

Argued March 8, 1927

Decided May 31, 1927

274 U.S. 559

Syllabus

1. Officers of the Coast Guard are authorized, by virtue of Rev.Stats. § 3072, to seize on the high seas beyond the twelve-mile limit an American vessel subject to forfeiture for violation of any law respecting the revenue. Maul v. United States, ante, p. 274 U. S. 501. P. 274 U. S. 562.

2. From that power it is fairly to be inferred that they are likewise authorized to board and search such vessels when there is probable cause to believe them subject to seizure for violation of revenue law, and to arrest persons thereon engaged in such violation. P. 274 U. S. 562.

3. Where a boat was properly seized by a Coast Guard officer beyond the twelve-mile limit and brought in, a search of her by a deputy surveyor of the port, within the territory of the United States, was authorized by § 581 of the Tariff Act of 1922, and failure of the government to institute proceedings to forfeit the boat and cargo of illicit liquor did not, by retroaction, render illegal either the seizure or the search. P. 274 U. S. 563.

4. A search of a boat made as an incident of a lawful arrest does not violate the Constitution. P. 274 U. S. 563.

5. An examination of a boat with a searchlight before boarding her is not an unconstitutional search, and discovery thereby of illicit liquor is admissible in evidence. P. 274 U. S. 563.

6. Legal evidence is not rendered inadmissible by a later trespass upon the part of the officers who obtained it. P. 274 U. S. 563.

14 F.2d 400 reversed.

Certiorari (273 U.S. 686) to a judgment of the circuit court of appeals reversing a conviction for conspiracy to violate the Tariff and Prohibition Acts upon the ground that evidence admitted was obtained by an illegal search and seizure.

Page 274 U. S. 560

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