Sei sulla pagina 1di 2

NEW YORK V.

BELTON
453 U.S. 454 JULY 1, 1981

Stewart, J:

Doctrine:
When a police officer has made a lawful custodial arrest of the occupant of an automobile, the
officer may, as a contemporaneous incident of that arrest, search the passenger compartment of
that automobile.

Facts:
A New York state police officer pulled over a speeding vehicle, with four occupants, including
Roger Belton [“the respondent”]. The vehicle belonged to none of the men present. The police
officer smelled burnt marijuana, and saw an enveloped associated with the drug. He ordered the
men out, arrested them for possession. He split them up, confiscated the drug, and searched each
of them. He then searched the passenger compartment of the car, and found the respondent’s
leather jacket. He found cocaine in one of the pockets.

Issue:
Whether or not it is constitutionally permissible scope of a search incident to his arrest include
the passenger compartment of the automobile?

Held:
Yes, it is constitutionally permissible scope of a search incident to his arrest include the
passenger compartment of the automobile

Ratio:
The court set out to firmly define the parameters of a search incident to arrest, established
under previous law as “the area within the immediate control of the arrestee.” A reading of case
law “suggests the generalization that articles inside the relatively narrow compass of the
passenger compartment of an automobile are in fact generally, even if not inevitably, within ‘the
area into which an arrestee might reach . . . a weapon” or evidence. Any containers within the
passenger compartment could be searched for that same reason.
Accordingly, we hold that when a [police officer] has made a lawful custodial arrest of
the occupant of an automobile, [the officer] may, as a contemporaneous incident of that arrest,
search the passenger compartment of that automobile.
It follows from this conclusion that the police may also examine the contents of any
containers found within the passenger compartment, for if the passenger compartment is within
reach of the arrestee, so also will containers in it be within his reach.
Such a container may, of course, be searched whether it is open or closed, since the
justification for the search is not that the arrestee has no privacy interest in the container, but that
the lawful custodial arrest justifies the infringement of any privacy interest the arrestee may
have. Thus, while the Court in Chimel held that the police could not search all the drawers in an
arrestee's house simply because the police had arrested him at home, the Court noted that
drawers within an arrestee's reach could be searched because of the danger their contents might
pose to the police.
The entire passenger compartment of an automobile is subject to search under the search
incident doctrine even if the arrestee is out of the car. A nexus is required between the vehicle
and the person arrested with or in the vehicle prior to the arrest.

Dispositive:
The New York Court of Appeals reversed