Where officers detected the odor of burning opium emanating from a hotel room, entered without a search warrant and without knowing who was there, arrested the only occupant, searched the room and found opium and smoking apparatus, the search violated the Fourth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, and a conviction for a violation of the federal narcotic laws based on the evidence thus obtained cannot be sustained.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The point of the Fourth Amendment which often is not grasped by zealous officers is not that it denies law enforcement the support of the usual inferences which reasonable men draw from evidence. Its protection consists in requiring that those inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate, instead of being judged by the officer engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime.
Any assumption that evidence sufficient to support a magistrate”s disinterested determination to issue a search warrant will justify the officers in making a search without a warrant would reduce the Amendment to a nullity, and leave the people”s homes secure only in the discretion of police officers.
GET A WARRANT!
Full case here: Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10 (1948) https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/333/10/
Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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