Minnesota v. Dickerson, 508 U.S. 366, 2 (1993)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Cite as: 508 U. S. 366 (1993)


is no longer valid under Terry and its fruits will be suppressed. Sibron v. New York, 392 U. S. 40, 65-66. Pp. 372-373. (b) In Michigan v. Long, 463 U. S. 1032, 1050, the seizure of contraband other than weapons during a lawful Terry search was justified by reference to the Court's cases under the "plain-view" doctrine. That doctrine—which permits police to seize an object without a warrant if they are lawfully in a position to view it, if its incriminating character is immediately apparent, and if they have a lawful right of access to it—has an obvious application by analogy to cases in which an officer discovers contraband through the sense of touch during an otherwise lawful search. Thus, if an officer lawfully pats down a suspect's outer clothing and feels an object whose contour or mass makes its identity immediately apparent, there has been no invasion of the suspect's privacy beyond that already authorized by the officer's search for weapons. Cf., e. g., Illinois v. Andreas, 463 U. S. 765, 771. If the object is contraband, its warrantless seizure would be justified by the realization that resort to a neutral magistrate under such circumstances would be impracticable and would do little to promote the Fourth Amendment's objectives. Cf., e. g., Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U. S. 321, 326-327. Pp. 374-377. 2. Application of the foregoing principles to the facts of this case demonstrates that the officer who conducted the search was not acting within the lawful bounds marked by Terry at the time he gained probable cause to believe that the lump in respondent's jacket was contraband. Under the State Supreme Court's interpretation of the record, the officer never thought that the lump was a weapon, but did not immediately recognize it as cocaine. Rather, he determined that it was contraband only after he squeezed, slid, and otherwise manipulated the pocket's contents. While Terry entitled him to place his hands on respondent's jacket and to feel the lump in the pocket, his continued exploration of the pocket after he concluded that it contained no weapon was unrelated to the sole justification for the search under Terry. Because this further search was constitutionally invalid, the seizure of the cocaine that followed is likewise unconstitutional. Pp. 377-379.

481 N. W. 2d 840, affirmed.

White, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court with respect to Parts I and II, and the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts III and IV, in which Stevens, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Souter, JJ., joined. Scalia, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 379. Rehnquist, C. J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Blackmun and Thomas, JJ., joined, post, p. 383.


Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007