Citation. United States v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1, 97 S. Ct. 2476, 53 L. Ed. 2d 538, 1977 U.S. LEXIS 133 (U.S. June 21, 1977)
Brief Fact Summary. One and a half hours after arresting the Respondents, Chadwick, Machado, and Leary (Respondents), federal narcotics agents opened a footlocker confiscated during the arrest. The agents had not obtained a warrant to open the footlocker.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Once property cannot be accessed by an arrestee, it cannot be searched without a warrant.
The Respondents were arrested by federal narcotics agents as they were lifting a footlocker into the trunk of a car. The agents confiscated the footlocker and moved the Respondents, footlocker, and car to the Federal Building in Boston. An hour and a half after the arrest, the agents unlocked the footlocker without a warrant, consent, or exigent circumstances. Large amounts of marijuana were found in the footlocker. Issue.
Is a search warrant required to open a locked footlocker that was seized during arrest, when there is probable cause to believe that the footlocker contains contraband?