DAVIS V. MISSISSIPPI, 394 U. S. 721 (1969)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721 (1969)

Davis v. Mississippi

No. 645

Argued February 26-27, 1969

Decided April 22, 1969

394 U.S. 721


In connection with a rape investigation the Meridian, Mississippi, police, without warrants, brought numerous Negro youths to the police station for questioning and fingerprinting. Petitioner was thus questioned and fingerprinted, and released. Thereafter, concededly without a warrant or probable cause for arrest, the police drove petitioner to Jackson and confined him in jail overnight. After he was questioned and signed a statement, he was returned to Meridian and jailed. While so confined, he was again fingerprinted and these prints were sent to the FBI for comparison with latent prints found in the victim's home. The fingerprint evidence was admitted at petitioner's trial for rape, over objection that it was the product of unlawful detention, and he was convicted. The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the conviction.


1. Fingerprint evidence is no exception to the rule that all evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is inadmissible in a state court. Pp. 394 U. S. 723-724.

2. The Fourth Amendment applies to involuntary detention occurring at the investigatory stage as well as at the accusatory stage. Pp. 394 U. S. 726-727.

3. Detentions for the sole purpose of obtaining fingerprints are subject to the constraints of the Fourth Amendment. P. 394 U. S. 727.

4. It is not determined here whether Fourth Amendment requirements could be met by narrowly circumscribed procedures for obtaining, during a criminal investigation, fingerprints of persons for whom there is no probable cause to arrest, since no attempt was made in this case to employ procedures which might comply with the Fourth Amendment. P. 394 U. S. 728.

204 So.2d 270, reversed.

Page 394 U. S. 722

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