US Supreme Court: Evidence Found After Illegal Stop is Admissible

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On June 20, 2016, the United States Supreme Court decided Utah v. Strieff. In this case, Officer Fackrell was conducting surveillance on a home looking for drug activity. He observed the defendant Edward Strieff leave the home and stopped him in a parking lot. Officer Fackrell discovered that Strieff had an outstanding arrest warrant and placed him under arrest. Officer Fackrell then searched Strieff and found methamphetamine and paraphernalia.

Even though the initial stop of Strieff may have been unlawful (due to lack of reasonable suspicion), the Court held that the evidence found after Strieff was placed under arrest is admissible. The Court found that once a valid arrest warrant was discovered, Officer Fackrell was required to place Strieff under arrest. Police are also allowed to conduct a search incident to arrest. Therefore, the Court found that the evidence found on Strieff is admissible at trial.

There are many exceptions to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment that allow police to conduct a search without first obtaining a warrant. However, in criminal law, the outcome of a case can depend on the facts and circumstances particular to that case.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it is critical that you speak with an attorney about your rights and the facts and circumstances particular to your case.