Jones v. United States,
357 U.S. 493 (1958)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Jones v. United States, 357 U.S. 493 (1958)

Jones v. United States

No. 331

Argued April 7-8, 1958

Decided June 30, 1958

357 U.S. 493


Having good reason to believe that it sheltered an illicit distillery, a federal officer obtained a daytime search warrant for petitioner's home, but obtained no warrant for his arrest. After dark, and without using the search warrant, but with good reason to believe that liquor was being illegally distilled in the house, federal officers forced their way into the house and, without arresting anyone there at the time, seized distilling equipment. Petitioner was then absent, and he was not arrested until he returned to the house an hour later. At petitioner's trial in federal court, the distilling equipment was admitted in evidence over his objection, and he was convicted of violations of federal liquor laws.

Held: the search and seizure violated the Fourth Amendment, for they cannot be justified on the ground that the officers had probable cause to believe that the house contained contraband materials; and the admission of the evidence so seized vitiated the conviction. Pp. 357 U. S. 494-500.

(a) Probable cause for belief that certain articles subject to seizure are in a home cannot, of itself, justify a search without a warrant. Pp. 357 U. S. 497-499.

(b) United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U. S. 56, distinguished. P. 357 U. S. 499.

(c) The issue whether the search and seizure were justified as incident to petitioner's lawful arrest is not fairly presented in this case, for the testimony of the federal officers makes clear that their purpose in entering the house was to search for the distilling equipment, not to arrest petitioner. Pp. 357 U. S. 499-500.

245 F.2d 32 reversed.

Page 357 U. S. 494

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