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Thus, this search cannot be justified on the ground that no constitutionally protected right of privacy was invaded.
The State's second argument in support of its categorical exception to the warrant requirement is that a possible homicide presents an emergency situation demanding immediate action. We do not question the right of the police to respond to emergency situations. Numerous state and federal ? cases have recognized that the Fourth Amendment does not bar police officers from making warrantless entries and searches when they reasonably believe that a person within is in need of immediate aid. Similarly, when the police come upon the scene of a homicide they may make a prompt warrantless search of the area to see if there are other victims or if a killer is still on the premises. Cf. Michigan v. Tyler, supra, at 509-510. "The need to protect or preserve life or avoid serious injury is justification for what would be otherwise illegal absent an exigency or emergency.” Wayne v.
6 E. g., People v. Hill, 12 Cal. 3d 731, 753–757, 528 P. 2d 1, 18-21; Patrick v. State, 227 A. 2d 486, 488-490 (Del.); People v. Brooks, 7 III. App. 3d 767, 775–777, 289 N. E. 2d 207, 212–214; Maxey v. State, 251 Ind. 645, 649–650, 244 N. E. 2d 650, 653–654; Davis v. State, 236 Md. 389, 395– 397, 204 A. 2d 76, 80–82; State v. Hardin, 90 Nev. 10, 518 P. 2d 151; State v. Gosser, 50 N. J. 438, 446 448, 236 A. 2d 377, 381-382; People v. Mitchell, 39 N. Y. 2d 173, 347 N. E. 2d 607; State v. Pires, 55 Wis. 2d 597, 603-605, 201 N. W. 2d 153, 156–158. Other cases are collected in Note, The Emergency Doctrine, Civil Search and Seizure, and the Fourth Amendment, 43 Ford. L. Rev. 571, 584 n. 102 (1975). See also ALI Model Code of Pre-Arraignment Procedure & SS 260.5 (Prop. Off. Draft 1975). By citing these cases and those in the note following, of course, we do not mean to approve the specific holding of each case.
? E. g., Root v. Gauper, 438 F. 2d 361, 364 365 (CA8); United States v. Barone, 330 F. 2d 543 (CA2); Wayne v. United States, 115 U. 8. App. D. C. 234, 238–243, 318 F. 2d 205, 209–214 (opinion of Burger, J.); United States v. James, 408 F. Supp. 527, 533 (SD Miss.); United States ex rel. Parson v. Anderson, 354 F. Supp. 1060, 1086–1087 (Del.), aff'd, 481 F.2d 94 (CA3); see Warden v. Hayden, 387 U. S. 294, 298–299; McDonald v. United States, 335 U. S. 451, 454 456; Johnson v. United States, 333 U. S. 10, 14-15.
United States, 115 U. S. App. D. C. 234, 241, 318 F. 2d 205, 212 (opinion of Burger, J.). And the police may seize any evidence that is in plain view during the course of their legitimate emergency activities. Michigan v. Tyler, supra, at 509–510; Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U. S., at 465-466.
But a warrantless search must be "strictly circumscribed by the exigencies which justify its initiation,” Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S., at 25–26, and it simply cannot be contended that this search was justified by any emergency threatening life or limb. All the persons in Mincey's apartment had been located before the investigating homicide officers arrived there and began their search. And a four-day search that included opening dresser drawers and ripping up carpets can hardly be rationalized in terms of the legitimate concerns that justify an emergency search.
Third, the State points to the vital public interest in the prompt investigation of the extremely serious crime of murder. No one can doubt the importance of this goal. But the public interest in the investigation of other serious crimes is comparable. If the warrantless search of a homicide scene is reasonable, why not the warrantless search of the scene of a rape, a robbery, or a burglary? "No consideration relevant to the Fourth Amendment suggests any point of rational limitation" of such a doctrine. Chimel v. California, supra, at 766.
Moreover, the mere fact that law enforcement may be made more efficient can never by itself justify disregard of the Fourth Amendment. Cf. Coolidge v. New Hampshire, supra, at 481. The investigation of crime would always be simplified if warrants were unnecessary. But the Fourth Amendment reflects the view of those who wrote the Bill of Rights that the privacy of a person's home and property may not be totally sacrificed in the name of maximum simplicity in enforcement of the criminal law. See United States v. Chadwick, 433 U. S. 1, 6-11. For this reason, warrants are
generally required to search a person's home or his person unless “the exigencies of the situation” make the needs of law enforcement so compelling that the warrantless search is objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. McDonald v. United States, 335 U.S. 451, 456; Johnson v. United States, 333 U. S. 10, 14–15. See, e. g., Chimel v. California, supra (search of arrested suspect and area within his control for weapons or evidence); Warden v. Hayden, 387 U. S. 294, 298–300 (“hot pursuit” of fleeing suspect); Schmerber v. California, 384 U. S. 757, 770–771 (imminent destruction of evidence); see also supra, at 392–393.
Except for the fact that the offense under investigation was a homicide, there were no exigent circumstances in this case, as, indeed, the Arizona Supreme Court recognized. 115 Ariz., at 482, 566 P. 2d, at 283. There was no indication that evidence would be lost, destroyed, or removed during the time required to obtain a search warrant. Indeed, the police guard at the apartment minimized that possibility. And there is no suggestion that a search warrant could not easily and conveniently have been obtained. We decline to hold that the seriousness of the offense under investigation itself creates exigent circumstances of the kind that under the Fourth Amendment justify a warrantless search.
Finally, the State argues that the “murder scene exception" is constitutionally permissible because it is narrowly confined by the guidelines set forth in the decision of the Arizona Supreme Court, see supra, at 389–390.8 In light of the extensive search that took place in this case it may be questioned what protection the guidelines afford a person in whose home a homicide or assault occurs. Indeed, these so-called guidelines
8 The State also relies on the fact that observance of these guidelines can be enforced by a motion to suppress evidence. But the Fourth Amendment "is designed to prevent, not simply to redress, unlawful police action." Chimel v. California, 395 U. S. 752, 766 n. 12.
are hardly so rigidly confining as the State seems to assert. They confer unbridled discretion upon the individual officer to interpret such terms as "reasonable . . . search," "serious personal injury with likelihood of death where there is reason to suspect foul play,” and “reasonable period.” It is precisely this kind of judgmental assessment of the reasonableness and scope of a proposed search that the Fourth Amendment requires be made by a neutral and objective magistrate, not a police officer. See, e. g., United States v. United States District Court, 407 U. S. 297, 316; Coolidge v. New Hampshire, supra, at 449 453; Mancusi v. DeForte, 392 U. S. 364, 371; Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U. S. 471, 481-482.
It may well be that the circumstances described by the Arizona Supreme Court would usually be constitutionally sufficient to warrant a search of substantial scope. But the Fourth Amendment requires that this judgment in each case be made in the first instance by a neutral magistrate.
“The point of the Fourth Amendment, which often is not grasped by zealous officers, is not that it denies law enforcement the support of the usual inferences which reasonable men draw from evidence. Its protection consists in requiring that those inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate instead of being judged by the officer engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime.” Johnson v. United States, supra,
at 13–14. In sum, we hold that the "murder scene exception" created by the Arizona Supreme Court is inconsistent with the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments that the warrantless search of Mincey's apartment was not constitutionally permissible simply because a homicide had recently occurred there.
9 To what extent, if any, the evidence found in Mincey's apartment was permissibly seized under established Fourth Amendment standards will be for the Arizona courts to resolve on remand.
Since there will presumably be a new trial in this case, to it is appropriate to consider also the petitioner's contention that statements he made from a hospital bed were involuntary, and therefore could not constitutionally be used against him at his trial.
Mincey was brought to the hospital after the shooting and taken immediately to the emergency room where he was examined and treated. He had sustained a wound in his hip, resulting in damage to the sciatic nerve and partial paralysis of his right leg. Tubes were inserted into his throat to help him breathe, and through his nose into his stomach to keep him from vomiting; a catheter was inserted into his bladder. He received various drugs, and a device was attached to his arm so that he could be fed intravenously. He was then taken to the intensive care unit.
At about eight o'clock that evening, Detective Hust of the Tucson Police Department came to the intensive care unit to interrogate him. Mincey was unable to talk because of the tube in his mouth, and so he responded to Detective Hust's questions by writing answers on pieces of paper provided by the hospital. Hust told Mincey he was under arrest for the murder of a police officer, gave him the warnings required by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436, and began to ask questions about the events that had taken place in Mincey's apartment a few hours earlier. Although Mincey asked repeatedly that the interrogation stop until he could get a lawyer, Hust continued to question him until almost midnight.
10 See also n. 2, supra.
11 Because of the way in which the interrogation was conducted, the only contemporaneous record consisted of Mincey's written answers. Hust tes tified that the next day he went over this document and made a few notes to help him reconstruct the conversation. In a written report dated about a week later, Hust transcribed Mincey's answers and added the questions he believed he had asked. It was this written report that was used to cross-examine Mincey at his subsequent trial.