Searches and Inspections in Noncriminal Cases.—Certain early cases held that the Fourth Amendment was applicable only when a search was undertaken for criminal investigatory purposes,71 and the Supreme Court until recently employed a reasonableness test for such searches without requiring either a warrant or probable cause in the absence of a warrant.72 But in 1967, the Court held in two cases that administrative inspections to detect building code violations must be undertaken pursuant to warrant if the occupant objects.73 "We may agree that a routine inspection of the physical condition of private property is a less hostile intrusion than the typical policeman's search for the fruits and instrumentalities of crime… But we cannot agree that the Fourth Amendment interests at stake in these inspection cases are merely 'peripheral.' It is surely anomalous to say that the individual and his private property are fully protected by the Fourth Amendment only when the individual is suspected of criminal behavior."74 Certain administrative inspections utilized to enforce regulatory schemes with regard to such items as alcohol and firearms are, however, exempt from the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement and may be authorized simply by statute.75
68 Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471 (1963). Such evidence is the "fruit of the poisonous tree," Nardone v. United States, 308 U.S. 338, 341 (1939), that is, evidence derived from the original illegality. Previously, if confessions were voluntary for purposes of the self-incrimination clause, they were admissible notwithstanding any prior official illegality. Colombe v. Connecticut, 367 U.S. 568 (1961).
69 Although there is a presumption that the illegal arrest is the cause of the subsequent confession, the presumption is rebuttable by a showing that the confession is the result of "an intervening . . . act of free will." Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 486 (1963). The factors used to determine whether the taint has been dissipated are the time between the illegal arrest and the confession, whether there were intervening circumstances (such as consultation with others, Miranda warnings, etc.), and the degree of flagrancy and purposefulness of the official conduct. Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590 (1975) (Miranda warnings alone insufficient); Dunaway v. New York, 442 U.S. 200 (1979); Taylor v. Alabama, 457 U.S. 687 (1982); Kaupp v. Texas, 538 U.S. 626 (2003). In Johnson v. Louisiana, 406 U.S. 356 (1972), the fact that the suspect had been taken before a magistrate who advised him of his rights and set bail, after which he confessed, established a sufficient intervening circumstance.
70 Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721 (1969); Taylor v. Alabama, 457 U.S. 687 (1982). In United States v. Crews, 445 U.S. 463 (1980), the Court, unanimously but for a variety of reasons, held proper the identification in court of a defendant, who had been wrongly arrested without probable cause, by the crime victim. The court identification was not tainted by either the arrest or the subsequent in-custody identification. See also Hayes v. Florida, 470 U.S. 811, 815 (1985), suggesting in dictum that a "narrowly circumscribed procedure for fingerprinting detentions on less than probable cause" may be permissible.
71 In re Strouse, 23 Fed. Cas. 261 (No. 13,548) (D. Nev. 1871); In re Meador, 16 Fed. Cas. 1294, 1299 (No. 9375) (N.D. Ga. 1869).
72 Abel v. United States, 362 U.S. 217 (1960); Frank v. Maryland, 359 U.S. 360 (1959); Oklahoma Press Pub. Co. v. Walling, 327 U.S. 186 (1946).
73 Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967) (home); See v. City of Seattle, 387 U.S. 541 (1967) (commercial warehouse).
74 Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523, 530 (1967).
75 Colonnade Catering Corp. v. United States, 397 U.S. 72 (1970); United States v. Biswell, 406 U.S. 311 (1972). Colonnade, involving liquor, was based on the long history of close supervision of the industry. Biswell, involving firearms, introduced factors that were subsequently to prove significant. Thus, while the statute was of recent enactment, firearms constituted a pervasively regulated industry, so that dealers had no reasonable expectation of privacy, inasmuch as the law provides for regular inspections. Further, warrantless inspections were needed for effective enforcement of the statute.
Camara and See were reaffirmed in Marshall v. Barlow's, Inc.,76 in which the Court held violative of the Fourth Amendment a provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act which authorized federal inspectors to search the work area of any employment facility covered by the Act for safety hazards and violations of regulations, without a warrant or other legal process. The liquor and firearms exceptions were distinguished on the basis that those industries had a long tradition of close government supervision, so that a person in those businesses gave up his privacy expectations. But OSHA was a relatively recent statute and it regulated practically every business in or affecting interstate commerce; it was not open to a legislature to extend regulation and then follow it with warrantless inspections. Additionally, OSHA inspectors had unbounded discretion in choosing which businesses to inspect and when to do so, leaving businesses at the mercy of possibly arbitrary actions and certainly with no assurances as to limitation on scope and standards of inspections. Further, warrantless inspections were not necessary to serve an important governmental interest, inasmuch as most businesses would consent to inspection and it was not inconvenient to require OSHA to resort to an administrative warrant in order to inspect sites where consent was refused.77
76 436 U.S. 307 (1978). Dissenting, Justice Stevens, with Justices Rehnquist and Blackmun, argued that not the warrant clause but the reasonableness clause should govern administrative inspections. Id. at 325.
77 Administrative warrants issued on the basis of less than probable cause but only on a showing that a specific business had been chosen for inspection on the basis of a general administrative plan would suffice. Even without a necessity for probable cause, the requirement would assure the interposition of a neutral officer to establish that the inspection was reasonable and was properly authorized. Id. at 321, 323. The dissenters objected that the warrant clause was being constitutionally diluted. Id. at 325. Administrative warrants were approved also in Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523, 538 (1967). Previously, one of the reasons given for finding administrative and noncriminal inspections not covered by the Fourth Amendment was the fact that the warrant clause would be as rigorously applied to them as to criminal searches and seizures. Frank v. Maryland , 359 U.S. 360, 373 (1959). See also Almeida-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U.S. 266, 275 (1973) (Justice Powell concurring) (suggesting a similar administrative warrant procedure empowering police and immigration officers to conduct roving searches of automobiles in areas near the Nation's borders); id. at 270 n.3 (indicating that majority Justices were divided on the validity of such area search warrants); id. at 288 (dissenting Justice White indicating approval); United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 547 n.2, 562 n.15 (1976).
In Donovan v. Dewey,78 however, Barlow's was substantially limited and a new standard emerged permitting extensive governmental inspection of commercial property,79 absent warrants. Under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, governing underground and surface mines (including stone quarries), federal officers are directed to inspect underground mines at least four times a year and surface mines at least twice a year, pursuant to extensive regulations as to standards of safety. The statute specifically provides for absence of advanced notice and requires the Secretary of Labor to institute court actions for injunctive and other relief in cases in which inspectors are denied admission. Sustaining the statute, the Court proclaimed that government had a "greater latitude" to conduct warrantless inspections of commercial property than of homes, because of "the fact that the expectation of privacy that the owner of commercial property enjoys in such property differs significantly from the sanctity accorded an individual's home, and that this privacy interest may, in certain circumstances, be adequately protected by regulatory schemes authorizing warrantless inspections."80
Dewey was distinguished from Barlow's in several ways. First, Dewey involved a single industry, unlike the broad coverage in Barlow's. Second, the OSHA statute gave minimal direction to inspectors as to time, scope, and frequency of inspections, while FMSHA specified a regular number of inspections pursuant to standards. Third, deference was due Congress' determination that unannounced inspections were necessary if the safety laws were to be effectively enforced. Fourth, FMSHA provided businesses the opportunity to contest the search by resisting in the civil proceeding the Secretary had to bring if consent was denied.81 The standard of a long tradition of government supervision permitting warrantless inspections was dispensed with, because it would lead to "absurd results," in that new and emerging industries posing great hazards would escape regulation.82 Dewey suggests, therefore, that warrantless inspections of commercial establishments are permissible so long as the legislature carefully drafts its statute.
78 452 U.S. 594 (1981).
79 There is no suggestion that warrantless inspections of homes is broadened. Id. at 598, or that warrantless entry under exigent circumstances is curtailed. See, e.g., Michigan v. Tyler , 436 U.S. 499 (1978) (no warrant required for entry by fire-fighters to fight fire; once there, firefighters may remain for reasonable time to investigate the cause of the fire).
80 Donovan v. Dewey , 452 U.S. 594, 598-99 (1981).
81 Id. at 596-97, 604-05. Pursuant to the statute, however, the Secretary has promulgated regulations providing for the assessment of civil penalties for denial of entry and Dewey had been assessed a penalty of $1,000. Id. at 597 n.3. It was also true in Barlow's that the Government resorted to civil process upon refusal to admit. 436 U.S. at 317 & n.12.
82 Donovan v. Dewey, 452 U.S. 594, 606 (1981). Duration of regulation will now be a factor in assessing the legitimate expectation of privacy of a business. Id. Accord, New York v. Burger , 482 U.S. 691 (1987) (although duration of regulation of vehicle dismantling was relatively brief, history of regulation of junk business generally was lengthy, and current regulation of dismantling was extensive).
Dewey was applied in New York v. Burger83 to inspection of automobile junkyards and vehicle dismantling operations, a situation where there is considerable overlap between administrative and penal objectives. Applying the Dewey three-part test, the Court concluded that New York has a substantial interest in stemming the tide of automobile thefts, that regulation of vehicle dismantling reasonably serves that interest, and that statutory safeguards provided adequate substitute for a warrant requirement. The Court rejected the suggestion that the warrantless inspection provisions were designed as an expedient means of enforcing the penal laws, and instead saw narrower, valid regulatory purposes to be served: e.g., establishing a system for tracking stolen automobiles and parts, and enhancing the ability of legitimate businesses to compete. "[A] State can address a major social problem both by way of an administrative scheme and through penal sanctions," the Court declared; in such circumstances warrantless administrative searches are permissible in spite of the fact that evidence of criminal activity may well be uncovered in the process.84
In other contexts, the Court has also elaborated the constitutional requirements affecting administrative inspections and searches. Thus, in Michigan v. Tyler,85 it subdivided the process by which an investigation of the cause of a fire may be conducted. Entry to fight the fire is, of course, an exception based on exigent circumstances, and no warrant or consent is needed; firemen on the scene may seize evidence relating to the cause under the plain view doctrine. Additional entries to investigate the cause of the fire must be made pursuant to warrant procedures governing administrative searches. Evidence of arson discovered in the course of such an administrative inspection is admissible at trial, but if the investigator finds probable cause to believe that arson has occurred and requires further access to gather evidence for a possible prosecution, he must obtain a criminal search warrant.86
83 482 U.S. 691 (1987).
84 482 U.S. at 712 (emphasis original).
85 436 U.S. 499 (1978).
86 The Court also held that, after the fire was extinguished, if fire investigators were unable to proceed at the moment, because of dark, steam, and smoke, it was proper for them to leave and return at daylight without any necessity of complying with its mandate for administrative or criminal warrants. Id. at 510-11. But cf. Michigan v. Clifford, 464 U.S. 287 (1984) (no such justification for search of private residence begun at 1:30 p.m. when fire had been extinguished at 7 a.m.).
One curious case has approved a system of "home visits" by welfare caseworkers, in which the recipients are required to admit the worker or lose eligibility for benefits.87 In another unusual case, the Court held that a sheriff's assistance to a trailer park owner in disconnecting and removing a mobile home constituted a "seizure" of the home.88
In addition, there are now a number of situations, some of them analogous to administrative searches, where "'special needs' beyond normal law enforcement . . . justify departures from the usual warrant and probable cause requirements."89 In one of these cases the Court, without acknowledging the magnitude of the leap from one context to another, has taken the Dewey/ Burger rationale—developed to justify warrantless searches of business establishments—and applied it to justify the significant intrusion into personal privacy represented by urinalysis drug testing. Because of the history of pervasive regulation of the railroad industry, the Court reasoned, railroad employees have a diminished expectation of privacy that makes mandatory urinalysis less intrusive and more reasonable.90
87 Wyman v. James, 400 U.S. 309 (1971). It is not clear what rationale the majority utilized. It appears to have proceeded on the assumption that a "home visit" was not a search and that the Fourth Amendment does not apply when criminal prosecution is not threatened. Neither premise is valid under Camara and its progeny, although Camara preceded Wyman. Presumably, the case would today be analyzed under the expectation of privacy/need/structural protection theory of the more recent cases.
88 Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U.S. 56, 61 (1992) (home "was not only seized, it literally was carried away, giving new meaning to the term 'mobile home"').
89 City of Ontario v. Quon, 130 S. Ct. 2619 (2010) (reasonableness test for obtaining and reviewing transcripts of on-duty text messages of police officer using government-issued equipment); Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 873 (1987) (administrative needs of probation system justify warrantless searches of probationers' homes on less than probable cause); Hudson v. Palmer , 468 U.S. 517, 526 (1984) (no Fourth Amendment protection from search of prison cell); New Jersey v. T.L.O. , 469 U.S. 325 (1985) (simple reasonableness standard governs searches of students' persons and effects by public school authorities); O'Connor v. Ortega, 480 U.S. 709 (1987) (reasonableness test for work-related searches of employees' offices by government employer); Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives' Ass'n, 489 U.S. 602 (1989) (neither probable cause nor individualized suspicion is necessary for mandatory drug testing of railway employees involved in accidents or safety violations). All of these cases are discussed infra under the general heading "Valid Searches and Seizures Without Warrants."
90 Skinner, 489 U.S. at 627.
With respect to automobiles, the holdings are mixed. Random stops of automobiles to check drivers' licenses, vehicle registrations, and safety conditions were condemned as too intrusive; the degree to which random stops would advance the legitimate governmental interests involved did not outweigh the individual's legitimate expectations of privacy.91 On the other hand, in South Dakota v. Opperman,92 the Court sustained the admission of evidence found when police impounded an automobile from a public street for multiple parking violations and entered the car to secure and inventory valuables for safekeeping. Marijuana was discovered in the glove compartment.
91 Delaware v. Prouse , 440 U.S. 648 (1979). Standards applied in this case had been developed in the contexts of automobile stops at fixed points or by roving patrols in border situations. Almeida-Sanchez v. United States, 413 U.S. 266 (1973); United States v. Brignoni-Ponce , 422 U.S. 873 (1975); United States v. Ortiz, 422 U.S. 891 (1975); United States v. Martinez-Fuerte , 428 U.S. 543 (1976).
92 428 U.S. 364 (1976). See also Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U.S. 433 (1973) (sustaining admission of criminal evidence found when police conducted a warrantless search of an out-of-state policeman's automobile following an accident, in order to find and safeguard his service revolver). The Court in both cases emphasized the reduced expectation of privacy in automobiles and the noncriminal purposes of the searches.Pages: 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15
Last modified: June 9, 2014