Florida v. Royer
Annotate this Case
460 U.S. 491 (1983)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491 (1983)
Florida v. Royer
Argued October 12, 1982
Decided March 23, 1983
460 U.S. 491
After purchasing a one-way airline ticket to New York City at Miami International Airport under an assumed name and checking his two suitcases bearing identification tags with the same assumed name, respondent went to the concourse leading to the airline boarding area, where he was approached by two detectives, who previously had observed him and believed that his characteristics fit the so-called "drug courier profile." Upon request, but without oral consent, respondent produced his airline ticket and driver's license, which carried his correct name. When the detectives asked about the discrepancy in names, respondent explained that a friend had made the ticket reservation in the assumed name. The detectives then informed respondent that they were narcotics investigators and that they had reason to suspect him of transporting narcotics, and, without returning his airline ticket or driver's license, asked him to accompany them to a small room adjacent to the concourse. Without respondent's consent, one of the detectives retrieved respondent's luggage from the airline and brought it to the room. While he did not respond to the detectives' request that he consent to a search of the luggage, respondent produced a key and unlocked one of the suitcases in which marihuana was found. When respondent said he did not know the combination to the lock on the second suitcase, but did not object to its being opened, the officers pried it open and found more marihuana. Respondent was then told he was under arrest. Following the Florida trial court's denial of his pretrial motion to suppress the evidence obtained in the search of the suitcases, respondent was convicted of felony possession of marihuana. The Florida District Court of Appeal reversed, holding that respondent had been involuntarily confined within the small room without probable cause, that, at the time his consent to search was obtained, the involuntary detention had exceeded the limited restraint permitted by Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1, and that such consent was therefore invalid because tainted by the unlawful confinement.
Held: The judgment is affirmed.
389 So.2d 1007, affirmed.
JUSTICE WHITE, joined by JUSTICE MARSHALL, JUSTICE POWELL, and JUSTICE STEVENS, concluded that respondent was being illegally detained when he consented to the search of his luggage and that such consent
was tainted by the illegality, and hence was ineffective to justify the search. Pp. 460 U. S. 497-508.
(a) When the detectives identified themselves as narcotics agents, told respondent he was suspected of transporting narcotics, and asked him to accompany them to the police room, while retaining his airline ticket and driver's license and without indicating in any way that he was free to depart, respondent was effectively seized for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. At the time respondent produced the key to his suitcase, the detention to which he was then subjected was a more serious intrusion on his personal liberty than is allowable on mere suspicion of criminal activity. What had begun as a consensual inquiry in a public place escalated into an investigatory procedure in a police interrogation room, and respondent, as a practical matter, was under arrest at that time. Moreover, the detectives' conduct was more intrusive than necessary to effectuate an investigative detention otherwise authorized by the Terry line of cases. Pp. 460 U. S. 501-507.
(b) Probable cause to arrest respondent did not exist at the time he consented to the search of his luggage. P. 460 U. S. 507.
JUSTICE BRENNAN, concurring in the result, agreed that, at some point after the initial stop, the officers' seizure of the respondent matured into an arrest unsupported by probable cause. The respondent's consent to the search of his suitcases, therefore, was tainted by the illegal arrest. P. 460 U. S. 509.
WHITE, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which MARSHALL, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 460 U. S. 508. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, post, p. 460 U. S. 509. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 460 U. S. 513. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., and O'CONNOR, J., joined, post, p. 460 U. S. 519.