Michigan v. DeFillippo
Annotate this Case
443 U.S. 31 (1979)
U.S. Supreme Court
Michigan v. DeFillippo, 443 U.S. 31 (1979)
Michigan v. DeFillippo
Argued February 21, 1979
Decided June 25, 1979
443 U.S. 31
At 10 o'clock at night, Detroit police officers found respondent in an alley with a woman who was in the process of lowering her slacks. When asked for identification, respondent gave inconsistent and evasive responses. He was then arrested for violation of a Detroit ordinance which provides that a police officer may stop and question an individual if he has reasonable cause to believe that the individual's "behavior . . . warrants further investigation" for criminal activity, and further provides that it is unlawful for any person so stopped to refuse to identify himself and produce evidence of his identity. In a search which followed, the officers discovered drugs on respondent's person, and he was charged with a drug offense but not with violation of the ordinance. The trial court denied his motion to suppress the evidence obtained in the search. The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Detroit ordinance was unconstitutionally vague, that both the arrest and search were invalid because respondent had been arrested pursuant to that ordinance, and that the evidence obtained in the search should have been suppressed on federal constitutional grounds even though it was obtained as a result of an arrest pursuant to a presumptively valid ordinance.
Held: Respondent's arrest, made in good faith reliance on the Detroit ordinance, which at the time had not been declared unconstitutional, was valid regardless of the subsequent judicial determination of its unconstitutionality, and therefore the drugs obtained in the search should not have been suppressed. Pp. 443 U. S. 350.
(a) Under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, an arresting officer may, without a warrant, search a person validly arrested. The fact of a lawful arrest, standing alone, authorizes a search. Pp. 443 U. S. 35-36.
(b) The Constitution permits an officer to arrest a suspect without a warrant if there is probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed or is committing an offense. Here, the arresting officer had abundant probable cause to believe that respondent's conduct violated the ordinance: respondent's presence with a woman in the circumstances described clearly was "behavior warrant[ing] further investigation"
under the ordinance, and respondent's responses to the request for identification constituted a refusal to identify himself as the ordinance required. Pp. 443 U. S. 36-37.
(c) Under these circumstances, the arresting officer did not lack probable cause simply because he should have known the ordinance was invalid and would be judicially declared unconstitutional. A prudent officer, in the course of determining whether respondent had committed an offense under such circumstances, should not have been required to anticipate that a court would later hold the ordinance unconstitutional. Pp. 443 U. S. 37-38.
(d) Since the arrest under the presumptively valid ordinance was valid, the search which followed was valid because it was incidental to that arrest. Torres v. Puerto Rico, 442 U. S. 465; Almeida-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U. S. 266; Sibron v. New York, 392 U. S. 40; and Berger v. New York, 388 U. S. 41, distinguished. Pp. 443 U. S. 39-40.
80 Mich.App. 197, 26 N.W.2d 921, reversed and remanded.
BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 443 U. S. 40. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 443 U. S. 41.
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