UNITED STATES V. EDWARDS, 415 U. S. 800 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Edwards, 415 U.S. 800 (1974)

United States v. Edwards

No. 73-88

Argued January 15, 1974

Decided March 26, 1974

415 U.S. 800


Respondent Edwards was arrested shortly after 11 p.m. on May 31, 1970, and taken to jail. The next morning, a warrantless seizure was made of his clothing and over his objection at his later trial, which resulted in conviction, was used as evidence. The Court of Appeals reversed. Though conceding the legality of the arrest, that probable cause existed for believing that the clothing would reveal incriminating evidence, and that searches and seizures that could be made at the time of arrest may be legally conducted when the accused arrives at the place of detention, the court held that the warrantless seizure of Edwards' clothing "after the administrative process and the mechanics of the arrest [had] come to a halt" was unconstitutional.

Held: The search and seizure of Edwards' clothing did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 415 U. S. 802-809.

(a) At the time Edwards was placed in his cell, the normal processes incident to arrest and custody had not been completed, and the delay in seizing the clothing was not unreasonable, since, at that late hour, no substitute clothing was available, and when, the next morning, the police were able to supply substitute clothing and took Edwards' clothing for laboratory analysis, they did no more than they were entitled to do incident to the usual arrest and incarceration. Pp. 415 U. S. 804-805.

(b) Once an accused has been lawfully arrested and is in custody, the effects in his possession at the place of detention that were subject to search at the time and place of arrest may lawfully be searched and seized without a warrant even after a substantial time lapse between the arrest and later administrative processing, on the one hand, and the taking of the property for use as evidence, on the other. Pp. 415 U. S. 806-808.

474 F.2d 1206, reversed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. STEWART,

Page 415 U. S. 801

J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 415 U. S. 809.

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