20 February 2013

Law in Plain English: Bailey v. United States

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

Bailey v. United States

Police were preparing to execute a warrant to search a basement apartment for a suspected gun. Detectives were in an unmarked car outside and witnessed two men (one later identified as Bailey) leave the apartment and drive away. The detectives followed the car for about a mile and then stopped it. The officers found a key on Bailey, and then handcuffed the men and drove them back to the apartment, where the key opened Bailey's door. The issue in this case was whether police officers may detain an individual incident to the execution of a search warrant when the individual has left the immediate vicinity of the premises before the warrant is executed. The Supreme Court ruled that the detention of Bailey was too far removed from the immediate premises of the apartment that was authorized in the search warrant. The practical impact of this decision that detaining someone incident to the execution of a search warrant needs to be in the immediate vicinity--once the person has left that area, the officers will probably need an independent basis to do so.
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