Can police detain a person miles away from his home as incident to execution of a search warrant?

The title of this video is a bit confusing. Let’s make it simple by looking at the facts of Bailey v. United States. On July 28, 2005, an informant told police that he had purchased six grams of crack cocaine at 103 Lake Drive, Wyandanch, New York, from an individual named “Polo.” Officers obtained a warrant to search the basement apartment at that address; the warrant provided that the apartment was occupied by a heavy-set black male with short hair, known as “Polo.”

The officers came out to the scene. While waiting for the search team to arrive, the officers observed two men -later identified as Chunon L. Bailey and Bryant Middleton-exiting the gate that led to the basement apartment at 103 Lake Drive. The officers followed Bailey and Middleton as they left the premises in a black Lexus, and pulled the Lexus over about one mile (5 minutes) from the apartment.

The officers patted down Bailey and Middleton, finding keys in Bailey’s front left pocket. They placed both men in handcuffs and informed them that they were being detained, not arrested. Bailey insisted that he did not live in the basement apartment at 103 Lake Drive, but his driver’s license address in Bay Shore was consistent with the informant’s description of Polo. The police searched the apartment while Bailey and Middleton were in detention, finding a gun and drugs in plain view. The police arrested Bailey, and seized his house keys and car key incident to his arrest; later, an officer discovered that one of the house keys opened the door to the basement apartment.

We have a search at the apartment. We also have a seizure and search of Bailey when he got pulled over. Is the search at the car considered to be “incident” to the search of the apartment?

No. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for a 6-3 majority, reversed and remanded. The Supreme Court held that the rule from Michigan v. Summers did not apply because Bailey was not in or immediately outside the residence being searched when he was detained. Also, none of the law enforcement interests mentioned in Summers were served by detaining Bailey. Arrests incident to the execution of a search warrant are lawful under the Fourth Amendment, but once an individual leaves the premises being searched, any detention must be justified by another means.

Full Opinion here:

Bailey v. United States, 568 U.S. 186 (2013)

Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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