Sunday, November 3, 2013

United States v. Drayton case brief

United States v. Drayton case brief summary
536 U.S. 194 (2002)

Certiorari was granted to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to review a judgment that reversed and remanded the defendants' narcotics convictions, with instructions to grant the defendants' Fourth Amendment motions to suppress, because the police officers, in conducting a routine drug and weapons interdiction on a bus, had not informed the passengers that consent to a search could have been refused.

The United States Supreme Court held that the police did not seize the defendants when they boarded the bus and began questioning passengers.

DISCUSSION (buckle up)
  • The officers gave the passengers no reason to believe that they were required to answer questions. 
  • The officers did not brandish weapons or make any intimidating movements, they left the aisle free so that passengers could exit, and spoke to them one by one in a polite, quiet voice. 
  • Nothing the officer said would have suggested to a reasonable person that he was barred from leaving or terminating the encounter. 
  • That the questioning took place on a bus did not on its own transform it into an illegal seizure. 
  • The fact that the officers were not in uniform or visibly armed had little weight. 
  • The officer asked the defendants first if they objected to a search. 
  • Even after arresting one defendant, the officer addressed the second defendant politely and gave no indication that he was required to answer questions or consent to a search. 
  • Although the officer did not inform the defendants of their right to refuse the search, he did request permission to search. 
  • The totality of the circumstances indicated that the consent was voluntary.

The judgment was reversed and remanded.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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