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Chimel v. California

From lawbrain.com

Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752 (1969), was a criminal procedure case heard by the Supreme Court involving the legality of a search of a suspect’s home incident to his arrest.

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Summary of Case Facts

Police officers came to Chimel’s home with a warrant for his arrest under suspicion of coin theft. Officers asked if they could search the home, but Chimel refused consent. The officers then proceeded to search the entire house, stating that they could do so as it was incident to a lawful arrest. Officers searched rooms throughout the house, enclosed furniture drawers, the attic, the garage, and a workshop on the property all without a search warrant. Several items were seized and admitted as evidence at trial. Chimel appealed throughout the levels of the California courts and the case eventually found its way to the Supreme Court.


Was it constitutional for officers to search Chimel’s entire home simply under the Fourth Amendment’s search “incident to arrest?”

Holding and Law

No. The court held the search of Chimel’s home unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The court opined that searches incident to a lawful arrest are to be limited only to the area within the immediate control of the suspect. While the police were well within their rights to search for evidence on or around a suspect, they could only search through an entire home pursuant to valid search warrant.

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