Brief Fact Summary. The defendant, Robinson (the “defendant”), was pulled over for driving with a revoked license. He was then arrested and the police officer proceeded to do a thorough search of the defendant’s person whereby the officer found a closed cigarette pack which contained heroin.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Incident to a lawful arrest, even for a driving violation, a thorough search (frisk) of an arrestee’s person for weapons and also to prevent the concealment or destruction of incriminating evidence is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution (“Constitution”).
Issue. May a police officer conduct a thorough search of a person beyond frisking for weapons when the arrestee has committed only a traffic offense?
Held. Yes. A search of an arrestee’s person beyond frisking for weapons is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, even where there is no reason to believe the arrestee committed any crime other than the traffic violation.
An arrest may not be used as a pretext to search for evidence.View Full Point of Law