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U.S. Supreme Court

One 1958 Plymouth Sedan v. Pennsylvania, 380 U.S. 693 (1965)

One 1958 Plymouth Sedan v. Pennsylvania

No. 294

Argued March 31, 1965

Decided April 29, 1965

380 U.S. 693


State liquor enforcement officers, without a warrant, stopped and searched an automobile which was "low in the rear, quite low," and found 31 cases of liquor therein. The State filed a petition for forfeiture of the car, which the trial judge, after finding that the officers acted without probable cause, dismissed on the ground that the forfeiture depended on the admission of illegally obtained evidence in violation of the Fourth Amendment as applied to the States by the Fourteenth. The State Supreme Court, without reviewing the finding of lack of probable cause, reversed on the basis that the exclusionary rule applies only to criminal prosecutions, and not to forfeitures, which it held are civil in nature.


1. Evidence which is obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment may not be relied on to sustain a forfeiture. Boyd v. United States, 116 U. S. 616, followed. Pp. 380 U. S. 696-702.

(a) Statements in cases involving contraband per se, United States v. Jeffers, 342 U. S. 48, and Trupiano v. United States, 334 U. S. 699, distinguished. Pp. 380 U. S. 698-699.

(b) A forfeiture, under the circumstances present here, is a penalty for a criminal offense, and can result in even greater punishment than the criminal prosecution. Pp. 380 U. S. 700-702.

2. On remand, the State Supreme Court may review the trial court's finding of lack of probable cause for the search. P. 380 U. S. 702.

414 Pa. 540, 201 A. 2d 427, reversed and remanded.

Page 380 U. S. 694

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