ILLINOIS V. ANDREAS, 463 U. S. 765 (1983)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Illinois v. Andreas, 463 U.S. 765 (1983)

Illinois v. Andreas

No. 81-1843

Argued March 30, 1983

Decided July 5, 1983

463 U.S. 765


A large, locked metal container, shipped by air from Calcutta to respondent in Chicago, was opened by a customs officer at the airport, who found a wooden table with marihuana concealed in a compartment. A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent confirmed that it was marihuana, and the table and container were resealed. The next day, the DEA agent and a Chicago police officer posed as delivery men and delivered the container to respondent, leaving it in the hallway outside his apartment. The DEA agent stationed himself to keep the container in sight and observed respondent take the container into his apartment. When the other officer left to secure a warrant to search the apartment, the DEA agent maintained surveillance of the apartment. Some 30 or 45 minutes after the delivery, but before the other officer could return with a warrant, respondent emerged from the apartment with the shipping container and was immediately arrested and taken to the police station; there the container was reopened and the marihuana found inside the table was seized. No search warrant had been obtained. Prior to trial on charges of possession of controlled substances, the Illinois state trial court granted respondent's motion to suppress the marihuana. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed, holding that a "controlled delivery" had not been made, so as to render a warrant unnecessary, because the DEA agent was not present when the container was resealed at the airport by the customs officers and the container was out of sight while it was in respondent's apartment.

Held: The warrantless reopening of the container following its reseizure did not violate respondent's rights under the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 463 U. S. 769-773.

(a) If an inspection by police does not intrude upon a legitimate expectation of privacy, there is no "search" subject to the Warrant Clause. No protected privacy interest remains in contraband in a container once government officers lawfully (as here) have opened that container and identified its contents as illegal. The simple act of resealing the container to enable the police to make a controlled delivery does not operate to revive or restore the lawfully invaded privacy rights, and the subsequent reopening of the container is not a "search" within the intendment of the Fourth Amendment. The rigors and contingencies inescapable in

Page 463 U. S. 766

an investigation into illicit drug traffic make "perfect" controlled deliveries frequently impossible to attain. The likelihood that contraband may be removed or other items may be placed inside the container during a gap in surveillance depends on all the facts and circumstances, including the nature and uses of the container, the length of the break in surveillance, and the setting in which the events occur. A workable, objective standard that limits the risk of intrusion on legitimate privacy interests when there has been an interruption of surveillance is whether there is a substantial likelihood that the contents of the container have been changed during the gap in surveillance. Pp. 463 U. S. 769-773.

(b) There was no substantial likelihood here that the contents of the shipping container were changed during the brief period that it was out of sight of the surveilling officer. Thus, reopening the container did not intrude on any legitimate expectation of privacy, and did not violate the Fourth Amendment. P. 463 U. S. 773.

100 Ill.App.3d 396, 426 N.E.2d 1078, reversed and remanded.

BURGER, C.J.,delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 463 U. S. 773. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 463 U. S. 782.

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