Minnesota v. Dickerson, 508 U.S. 366, 12 (1993)

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

Opinion of the Court

court's second concern—that touch is more intrusive into privacy than is sight—is inapposite in light of the fact that the intrusion the court fears has already been authorized by the lawful search for weapons. The seizure of an item whose identity is already known occasions no further invasion of privacy. See Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U. S. 56, 66 (1992); Horton, supra, at 141; United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U. S. 109, 120 (1984). Accordingly, the suspect's privacy interests are not advanced by a categorical rule barring the seizure of contraband plainly detected through the sense of touch.


It remains to apply these principles to the facts of this case. Respondent has not challenged the finding made by the trial court and affirmed by both the Court of Appeals and the State Supreme Court that the police were justified under Terry in stopping him and frisking him for weapons. Thus, the dispositive question before this Court is whether the officer who conducted the search was 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. The State District Court did not make precise findings on this point, instead finding simply that the officer, after feeling "a small, hard object wrapped in plastic" in respondent's pocket, "formed the opinion that the object . . . was crack . . . cocaine." App. to Pet. for Cert. C-2. The

Court rejected that argument on the grounds that "[t]he initial frisk of Ybarra was simply not supported by a reasonable belief that he was armed and presently dangerous," as required by Terry. 444 U. S., at 92-93. The Court added: "[s]ince we conclude that the initial patdown of Ybarra was not justified under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, we need not decide whether or not the presence on Ybarra's person of 'a cigarette pack with objects in it' yielded probable cause to believe that Ybarra was carrying any illegal substance." Id., at 93, n. 5. The Court's analysis does not suggest, and indeed seems inconsistent with, the existence of a categorical bar against seizures of contraband detected manually during a Terry patdown search.


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