United States v. Lawlor – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Lawlor, 406 F.3d 37, 42 (1st Cir. 2005), the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit addressed whether a police officer's action in entering a residence and conducting a protective sweep, incident to an arrest outside the residence, was reasonable. Id. at 42.

Acknowledging that " Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325 (1990) did not address whether a protective sweep can follow an arrest made just outside the home," the court stated:

"We think that an arrest that occurs just outside the home can pose an equally serious threat to arresting officers as one that occurs in the home. Therefore, we accept the position that a protective sweep may be conducted following an arrest that takes place just outside the home if sufficient facts exist that would warrant a reasonably prudent officer to fear that the area in question could harbor an individual posing a threat to those at the scene." Id.

The court noted that the officer and Lawlor were "just outside the house on its driveway -- an area vulnerable to attack from someone inside the house." Id.