When police officers, armed with a warrant to arrest one
Marquess, arrived at his house, another resident of the house and
four visitors, including petitioner, were there. While searching
the house unsuccessfully for Marquess, several officers smelled
marihuana smoke and saw marihuana seeds. Two of the officers left
to obtain a warrant to search the house, and the other officers
detained the occupants, allowing them to leave only if they
consented to a body search. About 45 minutes later, the officers
returned with the search warrant; the warrant was read to the
remaining occupants, including petitioner, and they were also given
warnings; and one Cox, an occupant, was ordered to
empty her purse, which contained drugs that were controlled
substances under Kentucky law. Cox told petitioner, who was
standing nearby in response to an officer's command, "to take what
was his," and petitioner immediately claimed ownership of the
drugs. At that time, an officer searched petitioner, finding $
4,500 in cash and a knife, and petitioner was then formally
arrested. Petitioner was indicted for possessing with intent to
sell the controlled substances recovered from Cox's purse, and the
Kentucky trial court denied petitioner's motion to suppress, as
fruits of an illegal detention and illegal searches, the drugs, the
money, and the statements made by him when the police discovered
the drugs. Petitioner's conviction was affirmed by the Kentucky
Court of Appeals, and the Kentucky Supreme Court, in turn affirmed,
holding that petitioner had no "standing" to contest the search of
Cox's purse because he had no legitimate or reasonable expectation
of freedom from governmental intrusion into the purse, and that the
search uncovering the money in petitioner's pocket was justifiable
as incident to a lawful arrest based on probable cause.
1. The conclusion that petitioner did not sustain his burden of
proving that he had a legitimate expectation of privacy in Cox's
purse so as to allow him to challenge the validity of the search of
the purse is supported by the record, which includes petitioner's
admission at the suppression hearing that he did not believe that
the purse would be free from governmental intrusion. Nor was
petitioner entitled to challenge
Page 448 U. S. 99
the search, regardless of his expectation of privacy, merely
because he claimed ownership of the drugs in the purse. While
petitioner's ownership of the drugs is one fact to be considered,
"arcane" concepts of property law do not control the ability to
claim the protections of the Fourth Amendment. Cf. Rakas v.
Illinois, 439 U. S. 128
448 U. S.
2. Under the totality of circumstances present (the giving of
warnings, the short lapse of time between
petitioner's detention and his admissions being outweighed by the
"congenial atmosphere" in the house during this interval, his
admissions being apparently spontaneous reactions to the discovery
of the drugs in Cox's purse, the police conduct not appearing to
rise to the level of conscious or flagrant misconduct requiring
prophylactic exclusion of petitioner's admissions, and petitioner
not having argued that his admissions were anything other than
voluntary), Kentucky carried its burden of showing that
petitioner's statements to the police admitting his ownership of
the drugs were acts of free will unaffected by any illegality in
his detention, assuming, arguendo,
that the police
violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments by detaining
petitioner and his companions in the house while they obtained a
search warrant. Cf. Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.
. Pp. 448 U. S.
3. The search of petitioner's person that uncovered the money
and the knife was valid as incident to his formal arrest. Once he
admitted ownership of the drugs found in Cox's purse, the police
had probable cause to arrest him, and where the arrest followed
quickly after the search of petitioner's person it is not important
that the search preceded the arrest, rather than vice versa. Pp.
448 U. S.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
BURGER, C.J., and BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, and
in Parts I and II-A of which STEWART and WHITE, JJ., joined.
BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring opinion, post,
448 U. S. 111
WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in part, in which STEWARTJ
J., joined, post,
p. 448 U. S. 113
MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J.,
p. 448 U. S.
Page 448 U. S. 100
MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner David Rawlings was convicted by the Commonwealth of
Kentucky on charges of trafficking in, and possession of, various
controlled substances. Throughout the proceedings below, Rawlings
challenged the admissibility of certain evidence and statements on
the ground that they were the fruits of an illegal detention and
illegal searches. The trial court, the Kentucky Court of Appeals,
and the Supreme Court of Kentucky all rejected Rawlings'
challenges. We granted certiorari, 444 U.S. 989, and now
In the middle of the afternoon on October 18, 1976, six police
officers armed with a warrant for the arrest of one Lawrence
Marquess on charges of drug distribution arrived at Marquess' house
in Bowling Green, Ky. In the house at the time the police arrived
were one of Marquess' housemates, Dennis Saddler, and four
visitors, Keith Northern, Linda Braden, Vanessa Cox, and petitioner
David Rawlings. While searching unsuccessfully in the house for
Marquess, several police officers smelled marihuana smoke and saw
marihuana seeds on the mantel in one of the bedrooms. After
conferring briefly, Officers Eddie Railey and John Bruce left to
obtain a search warrant. While Railey and Bruce were gone, the
other four officers detained the occupants of the house in the
living room, allowing them to leave only if they consented to a
body search. Northern and Braden did consent to such a search and
were permitted to depart. Saddler, Cox, and petitioner remained
seated in the living room.
Approximately 45 minutes later, Railey and Bruce returned with a
warrant authorizing them to search the house. Railey read the
warrant to Saddler, Cox, and petitioner, and also read
warnings from a card he carried in his pocket. At
that time, Cox was seated on a couch with petitioner seated to her
left. In the space between them was Cox's handbag.
After Railey finished his recitation, he approached
Page 448 U. S. 101
and told him to stand. Officer Don Bivens simultaneously
approached Cox and ordered her to empty the contents of her purse
onto a coffee table in front of the couch. Among those contents
were a jar containing 1,800 tablets of LSD and a number of smaller
vials containing benzphetamine, methamphetamine, methyprylan, and
pentobarbital, all of which are controlled substances under
Upon pouring these objects out onto the coffee table, Cox turned
to petitioner and told him "to take what was his." App. 62.
Petitioner, who was standing in response to Officer Railey's
command, immediately claimed ownership of the controlled
substances. At that time, Railey searched petitioner's person and
found $ 4,500 in cash in petitioner's shirt pocket and a knife in a
sheath at petitioner's side. Railey then placed petitioner under
Petitioner was indicted for possession with intent to sell the
various controlled substances recovered from Cox's purse. At the
suppression hearing, he testified that he had flown into Bowling
Green about a week before his arrest to look for a job and perhaps
to attend the local university. He brought with him at that time
the drugs later found in Cox's purse. Initially, petitioner stayed
in the house where the arrest took place as the guest of Michael
Swank, who shared the house with Marquess and Saddler. While at a
party at that house, he met Cox and spent at least two nights of
the next week on a couch at Cox's house.
On the morning of petitioner's arrest, Cox had dropped him off
at Swank's house where he waited for her to return from class. At
that time, he was carrying the drugs in a green bank bag. When Cox
returned to the house to meet him, petitioner dumped the contents
of the bank bag into Cox's purse. Although there is dispute over
the discussion that took place, petitioner testified that he "asked
her if she would carry this for me, and she said, yes.' . . ."
App. 42. [Footnote 1]
Page 448 U. S.
then left the room to use the bathroom and, by the time he
returned, discovered that the police had arrived to arrest
The trial court denied petitioner's motion to suppress the drugs
and the money and to exclude the statements made by petitioner when
the police discovered the drugs. According to the trial court, the
warrant obtained by the police authorized them to search Cox's
purse. Moreover, even if the search of the purse was illegal, the
trial court believed that petitioner lacked "standing" to contest
that search. Finally, the trial court believed that the search that
revealed the money and the knife was permissible "under the
exigencies of the situation." Id.
at 21. After a bench
trial, petitioner was found guilty of possession with intent to
sell LSD and of possession of benzphetamine, methamphetamine,
methyprylan, and pentobarbital.
Page 448 U. S. 103
The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed. Disagreeing with the
trial court, the appellate court held that petitioner did have
"standing" to dispute the legality of the search of Cox's purse,
but that the detention of the five persons present in the house and
the subsequent searches were legitimate because the police had
probable cause to arrest all five people in the house when they
smelled the marihuana smoke and saw the marihuana seeds.
The Supreme Court of Kentucky, in turn, affirmed, but again on a
somewhat different rationale. See 581
(1979). According to the Supreme Court, petitioner
had no "standing" because he had no "legitimate or reasonable
expectation of freedom from governmental intrusion" into Cox's
at 350, citing Rakas v. Illinois,
439 U. S. 128
(1978). Moreover, according to the Supreme Court, the search
uncovering the money in petitioner's pocket, which search followed
petitioner's admission that he owned the drugs in Cox's purse, was
justifiable as incident to a lawful arrest based on probable
In this Court, petitioner challenges three aspects of the
judgment below. First, he claims that he did have a reasonable
expectation of privacy in Cox's purse, so as to allow him to
challenge the legality of the search of that purse. [Footnote 2
] Second, petitioner argues that
his admission of ownership was the fruit of an illegal detention
that began when the police refused to let the occupants of the
house leave unless they consented to a search. Third, petitioner
contends that the search uncovering the money and the knife was
Page 448 U. S. 104
In holding that petitioner could not challenge the legality of
the search of Cox's purse, the Supreme Court of Kentucky looked
primarily to our then recent decision in Rakas v. Illinois,
where we abandoned a separate inquiry into a
defendant's "standing" to contest an allegedly illegal search in
favor of an inquiry that focused directly on the substance of the
defendant's claim that he or she possessed a "legitimate
expectation of privacy" in the area searched. See Katz v.
United States, 389 U. S. 347
(1967). In the present case, the Supreme Court of Kentucky looked
to the "totality of the circumstances," including petitioner's own
admission at the suppression hearing that he did not believe that
Cox's purse would be free from governmental intrusion, [Footnote 3
] and held that petitioner
"[had] not made a sufficient showing that his legitimate or
reasonable expectations of privacy were violated" by the search of
the purse. 581 S.W.2d at 350.
We believe that the record in this case supports that
conclusion. Petitioner, of course, bears the burden of proving not
only that the search of Cox's purse was illegal, but also that he
had a legitimate expectation of privacy in that purse.
Page 448 U. S. 105
Rakas v. Illinois, supra,
at 439 U. S. 131
n. 1; Simmons v. United States, 390 U.
, 390 U. S.
-390 (1968). At the time petitioner dumped thousands
of dollars worth of illegal drugs into Cox's purse, he had known
her for only a few days. According to Cox's uncontested testimony,
petitioner had never sought or received access to her purse prior
to that sudden bailment. Contrast Jones v. United States,
362 U. S. 257
362 U. S. 259
(1960). Nor did petitioner have any right to exclude other persons
from access to Cox's purse. See Rakas v. Illinois, supra
at 438 U. S. 149
In fact, Cox testified that Bob Stallons, a longtime acquaintance
and frequent companion of Cox's, had free access to her purse, and,
on the very morning of the arrest, had rummaged through its
contents in search of a hairbrush. Moreover, even assuming that
petitioner's version of the bailment is correct, and that Cox did
consent to the transfer of possession, [Footnote 4
] the precipitous nature of the transaction
hardly supports a reasonable inference that petitioner took normal
precautions to maintain his privacy. Contrast United States v.
Chadwick, 433 U. S. 1
433 U. S. 11
(1977); Katz v. United States, supra
at 389 U. S. 352
In addition to all the foregoing facts, the record also contains a
frank admission by petitioner that he had no subjective expectation
that Cox's purse would remain free from governmental intrusion, an
admission credited by both the trial court and the Supreme Court of
Kentucky. See n
and accompanying text.
Petitioner contends nevertheless that, because he claimed
ownership of the drugs in Cox's purse, he should be entitled to
challenge the search regardless of his expectation of privacy. We
disagree. While petitioner's ownership of the drugs is undoubtedly
one fact to be considered in this case, Rakas
rejected the notion that "arcane" concepts of property law ought to
control the ability to claim the protections of the Fourth
439 U.S. at 439 U. S.
-150, n. 17. See also United States v. Salvucci,
at 448 U. S.
Page 448 U. S. 106
Had petitioner placed his drugs in plain view, he would still
have owned them, but he could not claim any legitimate expectation
of privacy. Prior to Rakas,
petitioner might have been
given "standing" in such a case to challenge a "search" that netted
those drugs, but probably would have lost his claim on the merits.
the two inquiries merge into one: whether
governmental officials violated any legitimate expectation of
privacy held by petitioner.
In sum, we find no reason to overturn the lower court's
conclusion that petitioner had no legitimate expectation of privacy
in Cox's purse at the time of the search.
We turn, then, to petitioner's contention that the occupants of
the house were illegally detained by the police, and that his
admission to ownership of the drugs was a fruit of that illegal
detention. Somewhat surprisingly, none of the courts below
confronted this issue squarely, even though it would seem to be
presented under any analysis of this case except that adopted by
the Kentucky Court of Appeals, which concluded that the police
officers were entitled to arrest the five occupants of the house as
soon as they smelled marihuana smoke and saw the marihuana
We can assume both that this issue was properly presented in the
Kentucky courts and that the police violated the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments by detaining petitioner and his companions in
the house while they obtained a search warrant for the premises.
Even given such a constitutional violation, however, exclusion of
petitioner's admissions would not be necessary unless his
statements were the result of his illegal detention. As we noted in
Brown v. Illinois, 422 U. S. 590
422 U. S. 603
(1975), where we rejected a "but for" approach to the admissibility
of such statements, "persons arrested illegally frequently may
decide to confess, as an act of free will unaffected by the initial
illegality." In Brown,
we also set forth
Page 448 U. S. 107
the standard for determining whether such statements were
tainted by antecedent illegality:
"The question whether a confession is the product of a free will
. . . must be answered on the facts of each case. No single fact is
dispositive. . . . The Miranda
warnings are an important
factor, to be sure, in determining whether the confession is
obtained by exploitation of an illegal arrest. But they are not the
only factor to be considered. The temporal proximity of the arrest
and the confession, the presence of intervening circumstances, and,
particularly, the purpose and flagrancy of the official misconduct
are all relevant. The voluntariness of the statement is a threshold
requirement. And the burden of showing admissibility rests, of
course, on the prosecution."
at 422 U. S.
-604 (footnotes and citations omitted). See also
Dunaway v. New York, 442 U. S. 200
442 U. S. 218
(1979). As already noted, the lower courts did not undertake the
inquiry suggested by Brown.
Nevertheless, as in
itself, we believe that "the trial resulted in a
record of amply sufficient detail and depth from which the
determination may be made." 422 U.S. at 422 U. S.
First, we observe that petitioner received Miranda
warnings only moments before he made his incriminating statements,
a consideration Brown
treated as important, although not
dispositive, in determining whether the statements at issue were
obtained by exploitation of an illegal detention.
calls our attention to the "temporal
proximity of the arrest and the confession. . . ." Id.
422 U. S. 603
In this case, petitioner and his companions were detained for a
period of approximately 4 minutes. Although under the strictest of
custodial conditions such a short lapse of time might not suffice
to purge the initial taint, we believe it necessary to examine the
precise conditions under which the occupants of this house were
detained. By all accounts, the three people who chose not to
consent to a body search in order to leave sat
Page 448 U. S. 108
quietly in the living room or, at least initially, moved freely
about the first floor of the house. Upon being informed that he
would be detained until Officers Railey and Bruce returned with a
search warrant, Dennis Saddler "just went on in and got a cup of
coffee and sat down and started waiting" for the officers to
return. Tr. 109. When asked by petitioner's counsel whether there
was "any show of force or violence by you or Dave or anybody else,"
"A Oh, no. One person tried to sick my four and a half month old
dog on one of the officers. (laughing)"
"Q48 You're saying that in a joking manner?"
"A Yeah. He just wagged his tail."
"Q49 And other than that, that's the most violent thing you
proposed toward these police officers; is that correct?"
"A Yes sir. I would -- they were more or less courteous to us
and were trying to be -- we offered them coffee or a drink of water
or whatever they wanted."
at 113. According to Saddler, petitioner's first
reaction when the officers told him that he would be detained
pending issuance of a search warrant was to "[get] up and put an
album on. . . ." Id.
at 110. As even the dissenting judge
in the Court of Appeals noted: "[A]ll witnesses for both sides of
this litigation agreed to the congenial atmosphere existing during
the forty-five minute interval. . . ." App. 73 (Lester, J.,
dissenting). We think that these circumstances outweigh the
relatively short period of time that elapsed between the initiation
of the detention and petitioner's admissions.
suggests that we inquire whether any
circumstances intervened between the initial detention and the
challenged statements. Here, where petitioner's admissions were
apparently spontaneous reactions to the discovery of his drugs in
Cox's purse, we have little doubt that this factor weighs heavily
in favor of a finding that petitioner acted "of free will
unaffected by the initial illegality." 422 U.S. at
Page 448 U. S. 109
422 U. S. 603
Nor need we speculate as to petitioner's motivations in admitting
ownership of the drugs, since he explained them later to Lawrence
Marquess and Dennis Saddle. Under examination by petitioner's
counsel, Marquess testified as follows:
"Q1 Mr Marquess, when you were talking to David Rawlings in the
jail, and he told you that the things were dumped out on the table
and that he admitted they were his, did he tell you why he did
"A Well, he said Vanessa [Cox] was freaking out, you know, or
"Q2 Did he tell you that he did that to protect her or words to
"A Well, now, I mean he said he was going to take what was his,
I mean, he wasn't going to try to pin that on her."
Tr. 130. Saddler offered additional insight into petitioner's
"Q114 Did Dave Rawlings make any statements to you in jail about
any of these substances?"
"A Yes sir."
"Q115 And would you tell the Court what statements he made?"
"A Well, his main concern was whether or not Vanessa Cox was
going to say anything, and he just kept talking and harping on
that, and I don't know how many times he mentioned it, you know, 'I
hope she doesn't break,' or hope she doesn't talk. And I saw her
walking on the sidewalk through the windows and got a little upset
about that, because we all thought she turned State's
at 103. Fourth, Brown
consideration of "the purpose and flagrancy of the official
misconduct. . . ." 422 U.S. at 422 U. S. 604
The officers who detained petitioner and his companions uniformly
testified that they took those measures to avoid the
Page 448 U. S. 110
asportation or destruction of the marihuana they thought was
present in the house, and that they believed that a warrant
authorizing them to search the house would also authorize them to
search the five occupants of the house. While the legality of
temporarily detaining a person at the scene of suspected drug
activity to secure a search warrant may be an open question,
] and while the
officer's belief about the scope of the warrant they obtained may
well have been erroneous under our recent decision in Ybarra v.
Illinois, 444 U. S. 85
(1979), the conduct of the police here does not rise to the level
of conscious or flagrant misconduct requiring prophylactic
exclusion of petitioner's statements. Contrast Brown v.
at 422 U. S.
Finally, while Brown
requires that the voluntariness of
the statement be established as a threshold requirement, petitioner
has not argued here or in any other court that his admission to
ownership of the drugs was anything other than voluntary. Thus,
examining the totality of circumstances present in this case, we
believe that the Commonwealth of Kentucky has carried its burden of
showing that petitioner's statements were acts of free will
unaffected by any illegality in the initial detention.
Petitioner also contends that the search of his person that
uncovered the money and the knife was illegal. Like the
Page 448 U. S. 111
Supreme Court of Kentucky, we have no difficulty upholding this
search as incident to petitioner's formal arrest. Once petitioner
admitted ownership of the sizable quantity of drugs found in Cox's
purse, the police clearly had probable cause to place petitioner
under arrest. Where the formal arrest followed quickly on the heels
of the challenged search of petitioner's person, we do not believe
it particularly important that the search preceded the arrest,
rather than vice versa. See Bailey v. United States,
U.S.App.D.C. 354, 357, 389 F.2d 305, 308 (1967); United States
150 U.S.App.D.C. 113, 114, 463 F.2d 949, 950 (1972).
See also Cupp v. Murphy, 412 U. S. 291
(1973); United States v. Gorman,
355 F.2d 151, 160 (CA2
1965) (dictum), cert. denied,
84 U.S. 1024 (1966).
Having found no error in the lower courts' refusal to suppress
the evidence challenged by petitioner, we believe that the judgment
of the Supreme Court of Kentucky should be, and the same hereby
At petitioner's trial, Vanessa Cox described the transfer of
possession quite differently. She testified that, as she and
petitioner were getting ready to leave the house, petitioner asked
"would you please carry this for me" and simultaneously dumped the
drugs into her purse. According to Cox, she looked into her purse,
saw the drugs, and said "would you please take this, I do not want
this in my purse." Petitioner allegedly replied "okay, just a
minute, I will," and then went out of the room. At that point, the
police entered the house. Tr. 12-14. David Saddler, who was in the
next room at the time of the transfer, corroborated Cox's version
of the events, testifying that he heard Cox say "I do not want this
in my purse" and that he heard petitioner reply "don't worry" or
something to that effect. Id.
Although none of the lower courts specifically found that Cox
did not consent to the bailment, the trial court clearly was
skeptical about petitioner's version of events:
"The Court finds it unbelievable that, just of his own volition,
David Rawlings put the contraband in the purse of Mrs. Cox just a
minute before the officers knocked on the door. He had been
carrying these things around Bowling Green in a bank deposit sack
for days, either on his person or in his pocket, and it is unworthy
of belief that just immediately before the officers knocked on the
door, that he put them in the purse of Vanessa Cox. It is far more
plausible to believe that he saw the officers pull up out front and
then elected to 'push them off' on Vanessa Cox, believing that
search was probable, possible, and emminent [sic
Petitioner also claims that he is entitled to "automatic
standing" to contest the legality of the search that uncovered the
drugs. See Jones v. United States, 362 U.
(1960). Our decision today in United States
v. Salvucci, ante
p. 448 U. S. 83
disposes of this contention adversely to him.
Under questioning by his own counsel, petitioner testified as
"Q72 Did you feel that Vannessa [sic
] Cox's purse would
be free from the intrusion of the officers as you sat there? When
you put the pills in her purse, did you feel that they would be
free from governmental intrusion ?"
"A No sir."
App. 48. The trial court also credited this statement, noting
"You know what, I believe this boy tells the truth. You all
wanted to bring him in here before the Court, and he said, 'no, I
want a jury.' He said 'no, I don't understand that.' And I don't
blame him for not understanding that. That's the first time I've
ever seen such a thing brought on before this Court, and I've been
here for quite a few years as an attorney, of course."
"Now, no question but what the boy fully understood what was
meant by that. None at all in the Court's mind. If you want to go
ahead, you can do so."
But see n
"The reasonableness of seizures that are less intrusive than a
traditional arrest, see Dunaway v. New York, 442 U. S.
, 442 U. S. 209
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1
, 392 U. S.
(1968), depends 'on a balance between the public
interest and the individual's right to personal security free from
arbitrary interference by law officers.' Pennsylvania v.
Mimms, 434 U. S. 106
, 434 U. S.
(1977); United States v.
, 422 U. S. 878
Consideration of the constitutionality of such seizures involves a
weighing of the gravity of the public concerns served by the
seizure, the degree to which the seizure advances the public
interest, and the severity of the interference with individual
Brown v. Texas, 443 U. S. 47
443 U. S. 50
The fruit of the search of petitioner's person were, of course,
not necessary to support probable cause to arrest petitioner.
MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN, concurring.
I join the Court's opinion, but I write separately to explain my
somewhat different approach to the issues addressed in 448 U.
In my view, Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.
(1978), recognized two analytically distinct but
"invariably intertwined" issues of substantive Fourth Amendment
at 439 U. S. 139
The first is "whether [a] disputed search or seizure has infringed
an interest of the defendant which the Fourth Amendment was
designed to protect," id.
at 439 U. S. 140
Page 448 U. S. 112
is whether "the challenged search or seizure violated [that]
Fourth Amendment righ[t]," ibid.
The first of these
questions is answered by determining whether the defendant has a
"legitimate expectation of privacy" that has been invaded by a
governmental search or seizure. The second is answered by
determining whether applicable cause and warrant requirements have
been properly observed.
I agree with the Court that these two inquiries "merge into
at 448 U. S. 106
in the sense that both are to be addressed under the principles of
Fourth Amendment analysis developed in Katz v. United
States, 389 U. S. 347
(1967), and its progeny. But I do not read today's decision, or
as holding that it is improper for lower courts to
treat these inquiries as distinct components of a Fourth Amendment
claim. Indeed, I am convinced that it would invite confusion to
hold otherwise. It remains possible for a defendant to prove that
his legitimate interest of privacy was invaded, and yet fail to
prove that the police acted illegally in doing so. And it is
equally possible for a defendant to prove that the police acted
illegally, and yet fail to prove that his own privacy interest was
Nor do I read this Court's decisions to hold that property
interests cannot be, in some circumstances at least, weighty
factors in establishing the existence of Fourth Amendment rights.
Not every concept of ownership or possession is "arcane." Not every
interest in property exists only in the desiccated atmosphere of
ancient maxims and dusty books. Earlier this Term, the Court
recognized that "the right to exclude" is an essential element of
modern property rights. Kaiser Aetna v. United States,
444 U. S. 164
444 U. S.
-180 (1979). In my view, that "right to exclude"
often may be a principal determinant in the establishment of a
legitimate Fourth Amendment interest. Accordingly, I would confine
analysis to the facts of this case. On those facts, however, I
agree that petitioner's possessory interest in the vials of
Page 448 U. S. 113
substances is not sufficient to create a privacy interest in
Vanessa Cox's purse, and that such an interest was not otherwise
conferred by any agreement between petitioner and Cox.
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, with whom MR. JUSTICE STEWART joins,
concurring in part.
Although I join Parts I and II-A of the Court's opinion, I do
not join Parts II-B, II-C, and III, because I believe that the
fruits inquiry undertaken in Part 448 U. S.
the Court recognizes, the Supreme Court of Kentucky did not address
the question whether petitioner's admission to ownership of the
drugs was the fruit of an illegal detention, even though the
question was presented there. The state court majority did state
that, in concluding that the search of petitioner's person was
incident to a valid arrest, it "disregard[ed] as irrelevant the
detention during the period in which the officers were procuring a
search warrant." The court also observed that "[t]his search was
not explored in detail at the suppression hearing," and that "the
sequence of the search of the purse and Rawlings' admission of
ownership of the drugs is not clearly established in the record."
The court then concluded that "[c]learly, after Rawlings admitted
ownership of the drugs, the officers were entitled to arrest and
search the person, or search and then arrest." 581
, 350 (1979).
In proceeding in this manner, the Supreme Court of Kentucky
plainly failed properly to dispose of a federal question, as the
Court implicitly recognizes. Because the fruits question was never
addressed below and was barely mentioned in the briefs before this
Court, I would vacate the judgment below and remand to permit the
state court to address the question under the correct legal
standard. This Court should not attempt to decide a factual issue
on a record that the
Page 448 U. S. 114
state court itself apparently thought inadequate for that
MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, with whom MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN joins,
The vials of pills found in Vanessa Cox's purse and petitioner's
admission that they belonged to him established his guilt
conclusively. The State concedes, as it must, that the search of
the purse was unreasonable and in violation of the Fourth
Amendment, see Ybarra v. Illinois, 144 U.
(1979), and the Court assumes that the detention
which led to the search, the seizure, and the admissions also
violated the Fourth Amendment, ante
at 448 U. S. 106
Nevertheless, the Court upholds the conviction. I dissent.
The Court holds first that petitioner may not object to the
introduction of the pills into evidence, because the
unconstitutional actions of the police officers did not violate his
personal Fourth Amendment rights. To reach this result, the Court
holds that the Constitution protects an individual against
unreasonable searches and seizures only if he has "a legitimate
expectation of privacy' in the area searched." Ante at
448 U. S. 104.
This holding cavalierly rejects the fundamental principle,
unquestioned until today, that an interest in either the place
searched or the property seized is sufficient to invoke the
Constitution's protections against unreasonable searches and
The Court's examination of previous Fourth Amendment cases
begins and ends -- as it must if it is to reach its desired
conclusion -- with Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.
(1978). Contrary to the Court's assertion,
did not establish that the Fourth Amendment
protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures
only if they have a privacy interest in the place searched. The
question before the Court in Rakas
was whether the
defendants could establish
Page 448 U. S. 115
their right to Fourth Amendment protection simply by showing
that they were "legitimately on [the] premises" searched, see
Jones v. United States, 362 U. S. 257
362 U. S. 267
(1960). Overruling that portion of Jones,
the Court held
that, when a Fourth Amendment objection is based on an interest in
the place searched, the defendant must show an actual invasion of
his personal privacy interest. The petitioners in Rakas
did not claim that they had standing either under the
automatic standing rule for persons charged with
possessory offenses, which the Court overrules today, see
United States v. Salvucci, ante
p. 448 U. S. 83
because their possessory interest in the items seized gave them
"actual standing." No Fourth Amendment claim based on an interest
in the property seized was before the Court, and, consequently, the
Court did not and could not have decided whether such a claim could
be maintained. In fact, the Court expressly disavowed any intention
to foreclose such a claim ("This is not to say that such [casual]
visitors could not contest the lawfulness of the seizure of
evidence or the search if their own property were seized during the
search," 439 U.S. at 439 U. S. 142
n. 11), and suggested its continuing validity ("[P]etitioners'
claims must fail. They asserted neither a property nor a possessory
interest in the automobile, nor an interest in the property
at 439 U. S. 148
The decision today, then, is not supported by the only case
directly cited in its favor. *
Court has ignored
Page 448 U. S. 116
a long tradition embodying the opposite view. United States
v. Jeffers, 342 U. S. 48
(1951), for example, involved a seizure of contraband alleged to
belong to the defendant from a hotel room occupied by his two
aunts. The Court rejected the Government's argument that, because
the search of the room did not invade Jeffers' privacy he lacked
standing to suppress the evidence. It held that standing to object
to the seizure could not be separated from standing to object to
the search, for "[t]he search and seizure are . . . incapable of
being untied." Id.
. The Court then concluded that Jeffers
"unquestionably had standing . . . unless the contraband nature
of the narcotics seized precluded his assertion, for purposes of
the exclusionary rule, of a property interest
Similarly, Jones v. United States, supra,
plainly premised on the understanding that an interest in the
seized property is sufficient to establish that the defendant
"himself was the victim of an invasion of privacy." 362 U.S. at
362 U. S. 261
The Court observed that the "conventional standing requirement,"
at 362 U. S. 262
required the defendant to "claim either to have owned or
possessed the seized property
or to have had a substantial
possessory interest in the premises searched," id.
362 U. S. 261
(emphasis supplied). The Court relaxed that rule for defendants
charged with possessory offenses because
"[t]he same element . . . which has caused a dilemma,
that possession both convicts and confers
eliminates any necessity for a preliminary showing
of an interest in the premises searched or the property
which ordinarily is
Page 448 U. S. 117
required when standing is challenged."
at 362 U. S. 263
(emphasis supplied). Instead, "[t]he possession on the basis of
which petitioner is to be and was convicted suffices to give him
362 U. S. 264
Simmons v. United States, 390 U.
(1968), proceeded upon a like understanding. The
Court there reiterated that, prior to Jones,
"a defendant who wished to assert a Fourth Amendment objection
was required to show that he was the owner or possessor of the
or that he had a possessory interest in the
390 U.S. at 390 U. S.
-390 (emphasis supplied). Jones
that rule only with respect to defendants charged with possessory
offenses, so the defendant Garrett, who was charged with armed
robbery, had to establish standing. Because he was not
"legitimately on [the] premises" at the time of the search, see
at 362 U. S.
"[t]he only, or at least the most natural, way in which he could
found standing to object to the admission of the suitcase was to
testify that he was its owner."
390 U.S. at 390 U. S. 391
(footnote omitted). See also Brown v. United States,
411 U. S. 223
411 U. S. 228
(1973); Mancusi v. DeForte, 392 U.
, 392 U. S. 367
The Court's decision today is not wrong, however, simply because
it is contrary to our previous cases. It is wrong because it is
contrary to the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees that
"[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated."
The Court's reading of the Amendment is far too narrow. The
Court misreads the guarantee of security "in
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
searches and seizures" to afford protection only against
unreasonable searches and seizures of
The Fourth Amendment, it seems to me, provides in plain language
that, if one's security in one's "effects" is disturbed by an
unreasonable search and seizure, one has been the victim of a
constitutional violation; and so it has always been
Page 448 U. S. 118
understood. Therefore, the Court's insistence that, in order to
challenge the legality of the search, one must also assert a
protected interest in the premises is misplaced. The interest in
the item seized is quite enough to establish that the defendant's
personal Fourth Amendment rights have been invaded by the
The idea that a person cannot object to a search unless he can
show an interest in the premises, even though he is the owner of
the seized property, was squarely rejected almost 30 years ago in
United States v. Jeffers, supra.
There the Court
"The Government argues . . . that the search did not invade
respondent's privacy, and that he, therefore, lacked the necessary
standing to suppress the evidence seized. The significant act, it
says, is the seizure of the goods of the respondent without a
warrant. We do not believe the events are so easily isolable.
Rather, they are bound together by one sole purpose -- to locate
and seize the narcotics of respondent. The search and seizure are,
therefore, incapable of being untied. To hold that this search and
seizure were lawful as to the respondent would permit a quibbling
distinction to overturn a principle which was designed to protect a
at 342 U. S.
When the government seizes a person's property, it interferes
with his constitutionally protected right to be secure in his
effects. That interference gives him the right to challenge the
reasonableness of the government's conduct, including the seizure.
If the defendant's property was seized as the result of an
unreasonable search, the seizure cannot be other than
In holding that the Fourth Amendment protects only those with a
privacy interest in the place searched, and not those with an
ownership or possessory interest in the things seized, the Court
has turned the development of the law of search
Page 448 U. S. 119
and seizure on its head. The history of the Fourth Amendment
shows that it was designed to protect property interests, as well
as privacy interests; in fact, until Jones,
whether a person's Fourth Amendment rights had been violated turned
on whether he had a property interest in the place searched or the
items seized. Jones
and Katz v. United States,
389 U. S. 347
(1967), expanded our view of the protections afforded by the Fourth
Amendment by recognizing that privacy interests are protected even
if they do not arise from property rights. But that recognition was
never intended to exclude interests that had historically been
sheltered by the Fourth Amendment from its protection. Neither
purported to provide an exclusive
definition of the interests protected by the Fourth Amendment.
Indeed, as Katz
"That Amendment protects individual privacy against certain
kinds of governmental intrusion, but its protections go further,
and often have nothing to do with privacy at all."
389 U.S. at 389 U. S. 350
Those decisions freed Fourth Amendment jurisprudence from the
"subtle distinctions, developed and refined by the common law in
evolving the body of private property law which, more than almost
any other branch of law, has been shaped by distinctions whose
validity is largely historical."
362 U.S. at 362 U. S. 266
Rejection of those finely drawn distinctions as irrelevant to the
concerns of the Fourth Amendment did not render property rights
wholly outside its protection, however. Not every concept involving
property rights, we should remember, is "arcane." Cf. ante
at 448 U. S.
In fact, the Court, rather inconsistently, denies that property
rights may, by themselves, entitle one to the protection of the
Fourth Amendment, but simultaneously suggests that a person may
claim such protection only if his expectation of privacy in the
premises searched is so strong that he may exclude all others from
that place. See ante
at 448 U. S.
-106; Rakas v. Illinois,
439 U.S. at
439 U. S. 149
Such a harsh threshold requirement
Page 448 U. S. 120
was not imposed even in the heyday of a property rights oriented
Petitioner also contends that his admission of ownership of the
drugs should have been suppressed as the fruit of an unlawful
detention. The state courts did not pass on that claim, and no
factual record was developed which would shed light on the proper
disposition of the claim. In such circumstances, it would be
appropriate for us to defer to the state court and permit it to
make the initial determination. Nevertheless, the majority proceeds
to dispose of petitioner's claim by concluding that, even if the
detention was illegal, "petitioner's statements were acts of free
will unaffected by any illegality in the initial detention."
at 448 U. S. 110
Petitioner's admissions, far from being "spontaneous,"
at 448 U. S. 108
were made in response to Vanessa Cox's demand that petitioner "take
what was his." In turn, it is plain that her statement was the
direct product of the illegal search of her purse. And that search
was made possible only because the police refused to let anyone in
the house depart unless they "consented" to a body search; that
detention the Court has assumed was illegal. Under these
circumstances, petitioner's admissions were obviously the fruit of
the illegal detention, and should have been suppressed.
In the words of Mr. Justice Frankfurter:
"A decision [of a Fourth Amendment claim] may turn on whether
one gives that Amendment a place second to none in the Bill of
Rights or considers it, on the whole, a kind of nuisance, a serious
impediment in the war against crime."
Harris v. United States, 331 U.
, 331 U. S. 157
(1947) (dissenting opinion). Today a majority of the Court has
substantially cut back the protection afforded by the Fourth
Amendment and the ability of the
Page 448 U. S. 121
people to claim that protection, apparently out of concern lest
the government's ability to obtain criminal convictions be impeded.
A slow and steady erosion of the ability of victims of
unconstitutional searches and seizures to obtain a remedy for the
invasion of their rights saps the constitutional guarantee of its
life just as surely as would a substantive limitation. Because we
are called on to decide whether evidence should be excluded only
when a search has been "successful," it, is easy to forget that the
standards we announce determine what government conduct is
reasonable in searches and seizures directed at persons who turn
out to be innocent, as well as those who are guilty. I continue to
believe that ungrudging application of the Fourth Amendment is
indispensable to preserving the liberties of a democratic society.
Accordingly, I dissent.
* The Court invites the reader to "contrast" Jones v. United
States, 362 U. S. 257
(1960), which it expressly overrules, and to "see" Simmons v.
United States, 390 U. S. 377
390 U. S.
-390 (1968). Ante
at 448 U. S. 105
448 U. S. 104
The passage cited in Simmons
contains the following
"At one time, a defendant who wished to assert a Fourth
Amendment objection was required to show that he was the owner or
possessor of the seized property
or that he had a
possessory interest in the searched premises."
390 U.S. at 390 U. S.
-390 (emphasis supplied). The Court in
then observed that Jones
those standing requirements by holding that, in a case charging a
"the Government is precluded from denying that the defendant has
the requisite possessory interest to challenge the admission of the
evidence. . . ."
390 U.S. at 390 U. S. 390
The Court also "contrasts" two other cases in connection with its
subsidiary point that a "bailment" that is "precipitous" may not be
enough to show that a person "took normal precautions to maintain
his privacy." Ante
at 448 U. S. 105
The Court also cites Katz v. United States, 389 U.
(1967), as the source of the phrase "legitimate
expectation of privacy." But Katz
did not purport to
restrict the interest protected by the Fourth Amendment, see
at 448 U. S.