Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752; 89 S. Ct. 2034; 23 L. Ed. 2d 685 (1969)

Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752; 89 S. Ct. 2034; 23 L. Ed. 2d 685 (1969)

Facts—Three police officers searched the entire home of Chimel in Santa Ana, California. The officers had a warrant authorizing his arrest for the burglary of a coin shop, but no search warrant. Chimel’s wife admitted the officers to the house. Some items taken from the house at this time were admitted into Chimel’s trial at which he was convicted.

Question—Can the warrantless search of an entire house be justified under the Fourth Amendment as incident to lawful arrest?


ReasonsJ. Stewart (7–2). Such a search is unreasonable and thus contrary to the Fourth Amendment. An arresting officer may search the person arrested in order to remove any weapons the prisoner might seek to use and to seize any evidence on the arrestee’s person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction. Included here is the area from within which the prisoner might gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence, the area under his immediate control.

J. White argued in dissent that such searches should be accepted as long as they were incident to lawful arrests.

NoteChimel overruled Harris v. United States, 331 U.S. 145 (1947) and

United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56 (1950).

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