Andresen v. Maryland
427 U.S. 463 (1976)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Andresen v. Maryland, 427 U.S. 463 (1976)

Andresen v. Maryland

No. 74-1646

Argued February 25, 1976

Decided June 29, 1976

427 U.S. 463

Syllabus

After an investigation by a State's Attorneys' fraud unit of real estate settlement activities in certain Maryland counties indicated that petitioner, while acting as a settlement attorney, had defrauded the purchaser of certain realty (Lot 13T), the investigators obtained warrants to search petitioner's offices. The warrants listed specified items pertaining to Lot 13T to be seized, "together with other fruits, instrumentalities and evidence of crime at this [time] unknown." In the ensuing search, a number of incriminating documents, including some containing statements made by petitioner, were seized. Petitioner was then charged, inter alia, with the crime of false pretenses based on a misrepresentation made to the purchaser of Lot 13T that title to the property was clear. Petitioner's motion to suppress the seized documents was granted as to some documents, but, with respect to others, the trial court ruled that their admission into evidence would not violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. At trial, which resulted in petitioner's conviction, a number of the seized items (including documents pertaining to a lot other than Lot 13T but located in the same subdivision and subject to the same liens as Lot 13T) were admitted in evidence, after being authenticated by prosecution witnesses. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed the conviction and rejected petitioner's constitutional claims.

Held:

1. The search of petitioner's offices for business records, their seizure, and subsequent introduction into evidence did not offend the Fifth Amendment's proscription that "[n]o person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." Although the records seized contained statements that petitioner voluntarily had committed to writing, he was never required to say anything. The search for and seizure of these records were conducted by law enforcement personnel, and when the records were introduced at trial, they were authenticated by prosecution witnesses, not by petitioner. Therefore, any compulsion of petitioner to speak, other than the inherent psychological

Page 427 U. S. 464

pressure to respond at trial to unfavorable evidence, was not present. Pp. 427 U. S. 470-477.

2. The searches and seizures were not "unreasonable" in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 427 U. S. 478-484.

(a) The warrants were not rendered fatally "general" by the "together with" phrase, which appeared in each warrant at the end of a sentence listing the specified items to be seized, all pertaining to Lot 13T. This phrase must be read as authorizing only the search for and seizure of evidence relating to the crime of false pretenses with respect to Lot 13T. Pp. 427 U. S. 479-482.

(b) The seizure of the documents pertaining to a lot other than Lot 13T in the same subdivision and subject to the same liens as Lot 13T did not violate the principle that, when police seize

"'mere evidence,' probable cause must be examined in terms of cause to believe that the evidence sought will aid in a particular apprehension or conviction,"

Warden v. Hayden,387 U. S. 294, 387 U. S. 307. The investigators reasonably could have believed that the evidence specifically dealing with fraudulent conduct respecting the other lot could be used to show petitioner's intent to defraud with respect to Lot 13T, and although such evidence was used to secure additional charges against petitioner, its suppression was not required. Pp. 427 U. S. 482-484.

24 Md.App. 128, 331 A.2d 78, affirmed.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, WHITE, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., post, p. 427 U. S. 484, and MARSHALL, J., post, p. 427 U. S. 493, filed dissenting opinions.

Page 427 U. S. 465

Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.