Illinois v. Andreas
463 U.S. 765 (1983)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Illinois v. Andreas, 463 U.S. 765 (1983)

Illinois v. Andreas

No. 81-1843

Argued March 30, 1983

Decided July 5, 1983

463 U.S. 765

CERTIORARI TO THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST

JUDICIAL DISTRICT

Syllabus

A large, locked metal container, shipped by air from Calcutta to respondent in Chicago, was opened by a customs officer at the airport, who found a wooden table with marihuana concealed in a compartment. A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent confirmed that it was marihuana, and the table and container were resealed. The next day, the DEA agent and a Chicago police officer posed as delivery men and delivered the container to respondent, leaving it in the hallway outside his apartment. The DEA agent stationed himself to keep the container in sight and observed respondent take the container into his apartment. When the other officer left to secure a warrant to search the apartment, the DEA agent maintained surveillance of the apartment. Some 30 or 45 minutes after the delivery, but before the other officer could return with a warrant, respondent emerged from the apartment with the shipping container and was immediately arrested and taken to the police station; there the container was reopened and the marihuana found inside the table was seized. No search warrant had been obtained. Prior to trial on charges of possession of controlled substances, the Illinois state trial court granted respondent's motion to suppress the marihuana. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed, holding that a "controlled delivery" had not been made, so as to render a warrant unnecessary, because the DEA agent was not present when the container was resealed at the airport by the customs officers and the container was out of sight while it was in respondent's apartment.

Held: The warrantless reopening of the container following its reseizure did not violate respondent's rights under the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 463 U. S. 769-773.

(a) If an inspection by police does not intrude upon a legitimate expectation of privacy, there is no "search" subject to the Warrant Clause. No protected privacy interest remains in contraband in a container once government officers lawfully (as here) have opened that container and identified its contents as illegal. The simple act of resealing the container to enable the police to make a controlled delivery does not operate to revive or restore the lawfully invaded privacy rights, and the subsequent reopening of the container is not a "search" within the intendment of the Fourth Amendment. The rigors and contingencies inescapable in

Page 463 U. S. 766

an investigation into illicit drug traffic make "perfect" controlled deliveries frequently impossible to attain. The likelihood that contraband may be removed or other items may be placed inside the container during a gap in surveillance depends on all the facts and circumstances, including the nature and uses of the container, the length of the break in surveillance, and the setting in which the events occur. A workable, objective standard that limits the risk of intrusion on legitimate privacy interests when there has been an interruption of surveillance is whether there is a substantial likelihood that the contents of the container have been changed during the gap in surveillance. Pp. 463 U. S. 769-773.

(b) There was no substantial likelihood here that the contents of the shipping container were changed during the brief period that it was out of sight of the surveilling officer. Thus, reopening the container did not intrude on any legitimate expectation of privacy, and did not violate the Fourth Amendment. P. 463 U. S. 773.

100 Ill.App.3d 396, 426 N.E.2d 1078, reversed and remanded.

BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 463 U. S. 773. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 463 U. S. 782.

CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question presented is whether a warrant was required to reopen a sealed container in which contraband drugs had been discovered in an earlier lawful border search when the container was seized by the police after it had been delivered to respondent under police supervision.

Page 463 U. S. 767

I

A large, locked metal container was shipped by air from Calcutta to respondent in Chicago. When the container arrived at O'Hare International Airport, a customs inspector opened it and found a wooden table approximately three feet in diameter and 8 to 10 inches thick. Marihuana was found concealed inside the table.

The customs inspector informed the Drug Enforcement Administration of these facts and Special Agent Labek came to the airport later that day. Labek chemically tested the substance contained in the table, confirming that it was marihuana. The table and the container were resealed.

The next day, Labek put the container in a delivery van and drove to respondent's building. He was met there by Chicago Police Inspector Lipsek. Posing as delivery men, Labek and Lipsek entered the apartment building and announced they had a package for respondent. Respondent came to the lobby and identified himself. In response to Lipsek's comment about the weight of the package, respondent answered that it "wasn't that heavy; that he had packaged it himself, that it only contained a table." App. 14.

At respondent's request, the officers making the delivery left the container in the hallway outside respondent's apartment. Labek stationed himself to keep the container in sight and observed respondent pull the container into his apartment. When Lipsek left to secure a warrant to enter and search respondent's apartment, Labek maintained surveillance of the apartment; he saw respondent leave his apartment, walk to the end of the corridor, look out the window, and then return to the apartment. Labek remained in the building, but did not keep the apartment door under constant surveillance.

Between 30 and 45 minutes after the delivery, but before Lipsek could return with a warrant, respondent reemerged from the apartment with the shipping container and was immediately arrested by Labek and taken to the police station. There, the officers reopened the container and seized the

Page 463 U. S. 768

marihuana found inside the table. No search warrant had been obtained.

Respondent was charged with two counts of possession of controlled substances. Ill.Rev.Stat., ch. 56 1/2,

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