Agnello v. United States,
269 U.S. 20 (1925)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Agnello v. United States, 269 U.S. 20 (1925)

Agnello v. United States

No. 6

Argued April 23, 1925

Decided October 12, 1925

269 U.S. 20


1. The right without a search warrant contemporaneously to search persons lawfully arrested while committing crime and to search the place where the arrest is made in order to find and seize things connected with the crime as its fruits or as the means by which it was committed, as well as weapons and other things to effect an escape from custody, is not to be doubted. P. 269 U. S. 30.

2. But this right, which is incidental to the arrest, cannot extend to the search of a man's dwelling, several blocks distant from the place of his arrest, after the offense has been committed and while he is in custody elsewhere. Carroll v. United States, 267 U. S. 132, distinguished. Id.

3. So held assuming that the house searched, which was the house of one A who had shortly before been arrested with others who were in the act of consummating a conspiracy to violate the Anti-Narcotic Act by selling cocaine without having registered and paid the prescribed tax, was the place from which the cocaine sold had been taken by some of the defendants to the place of sale, and that other cocaine, discovered in the house by the search, was there in A's control in violation of the Act, was subject to forfeiture thereunder, and was part of the cocaine constituting the subject matter of the conspiracy. Id.

4. Belief, however well founded, that an article sought is concealed in a dwelling house furnishes no justification for a search in the house without a warrant; such searches are unlawful notwithstanding facts unquestionably showing probable cause. P. 269 U. S. 32.

5. When properly invoked, the Fifth Amendment protects every person from incrimination by the use of evidence obtained through search or seizure made in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment. P. 269 U. S. 33.

6. Where, by uncontroverted facts, it appears that a search and seizure were made in violation of the Fourth Amendment, there is no reason why one whose rights have been so violated and whom it is sought to incriminate by evidence so obtained may not invoke protection of the Fifth Amendment immediately, by objection

Page 269 U. S. 21

to the evidence, without having made any application for the return of the thing seized. P. 269 U. S. 34.

7. Evidence of an unlawful search of an accused person's house and of seizure therein of an incriminating article cannot be introduced against him at the trial as evidence in rebuttal of his testimony on cross-examination that he never saw the article. P. 269 U. S. 35.

8. Where several are tried jointly and convicted for conspiracy, erroneous admission of evidence of an unlawful search and seizure in the dwelling of one will not require a reversal as to the other if the evidence was adduced only against the one, in proof of guilty knowledge and intent in performing acts with the others for executing the conspiracy, since they would be equally guilty whether he acted as guilty participant or as their innocent agent. P. 269 U. S. 35.

20 F. 671 reversed in part, affirmed in part.

Certiorari to a judgment of the circuit court of appeals affirming a conviction and judgment in the district court on a prosecution of the petitioners (named in the opinion) for conspiracy to violate the Federal Narcotic Tax Act.

Page 269 U. S. 27

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