Rakas v. Illinois
Annotate this Case
439 U.S. 128 (1978)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128 (1978)
Rakas v. Illinois
Argued October 3, 1978
Decided December 5, 1978
439 U.S. 128
After receiving a robbery report, police stopped the suspected getaway car, which the owner was driving and in which petitioners were passengers. Upon searching the car, the police found a box of rifle shells in the glove compartment and a sawed-off rifle under the front passenger seat and arrested petitioners. Subsequently, petitioners were convicted in an Illinois court of armed robbery at a trial in which the rifle and shells were admitted as evidence. Before trial petitioners had moved to suppress the rifle and shells on Fourth Amendment grounds, but the trial court denied the motion on the ground that petitioners lacked standing to object to the lawfulness of the search of the car because they concededly did not own either the car or the rifle and shells. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed.
1. "Fourth Amendment rights are personal rights which . . . may not be vicariously asserted," Alderman v. United States, 394 U. S. 165, 394 U. S. 174, and a person aggrieved by an illegal search and seizure only through the introduction of damaging evidence secured by a search of a third person's premises or property has not had any of his Fourth Amendment rights infringed. The rule of standing to raise vicarious Fourth Amendment claims should not be extended by a so-called "target" theory, whereby any criminal defendant at whom a search was "directed" would have standing to contest the legality of that search and object to the admission at trial of evidence obtained as a result of the search. Pp. 439 U. S. 133-138.
2. In any event, the better analysis of the principle that Fourth Amendment rights are personal rights that may not be asserted vicariously should focus on the extent of a particular defendant's rights under that Amendment, rather than on any theoretically separate but invariably intertwined concept of standing. Pp. 439 U. S. 138-140.
3. The phrase "legitimately on premises" coined in Jones v. United States, 362 U. S. 257, creates "too broad a gauge" for measurement of Fourth Amendment rights. The holding in Jones can best be explained by the fact that Jones had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the premises he was using, and therefore could claim the protection of the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 140-148.
4. Petitioners, who asserted neither a property nor a possessory interest in the automobile searched nor an interest in the property seized, and who failed to show that they had any legitimate expectation of privacy in the glove compartment or area under the seat of the car in which they were merely passengers, were not entitled to challenge a search of those areas. Jones v. United States, supra; Katz v. United States, 389 U. S. 347, distinguished. Pp. 439 U. S. 148-149.
46 Ill.App.3d 569, 360 N.E.2d 1252, affirmed.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, POWELL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., joined, post, p. 439 U. S. 150. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 439 U. S. 156.