United States v. Drayton, 536 U.S. 194, 7 (2002)

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Opinion of the Court

United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida denied their motions to suppress. The District Court determined that the police conduct was not coercive and respondents' consent to the search was voluntary. The District Court pointed to the fact that the officers were dressed in plain clothes, did not brandish their badges in an authoritative manner, did not make a general announcement to the entire bus, and did not address anyone in a menacing tone of voice. It noted that the officers did not block the aisle or the exit, and stated that it was "obvious that [respondents] can get up and leave, as can the people ahead of them." App. 132. The District Court concluded: "[E]very-thing that took place between Officer Lang and Mr. Drayton and Mr. Brown suggests that it was cooperative. There was nothing coercive, there was nothing confrontational about it." Ibid.

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to grant respondents' motions to suppress. 231 F. 3d 787 (2000). The court held that this disposition was compelled by its previous decisions in United States v. Washington, 151 F. 3d 1354 (1998), and United States v. Guapi, 144 F. 3d 1393 (1998). Those cases had held that bus passengers do not feel free to disregard police officers' requests to search absent "some positive indication that consent could have been refused." Washington, supra, at 1357.

We granted certiorari. 534 U. S. 1074 (2002). The respondents, we conclude, were not seized and their consent to the search was voluntary; and we reverse.


Law enforcement officers do not violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable seizures merely by approaching individuals on the street or in other public places and putting questions to them if they are willing to listen. See, e. g., Florida v. Royer, 460 U. S. 491, 497 (1983)

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