Arrested of House Owner During Search Warrant After Finding Drugs

In Michigan v. Summers (1981), officers executed a search warrant at a house. While doing so, they encountered the defendant leaving the house. They requested his assistance in entering the home and detained him while they searched the premises. (Michigan v. Summers, supra, 452 U.S. 692, 693 101 S. Ct. 2587, 2589.) After finding drugs in the house, and learning that the defendant owned the house, he was arrested and searched. Drugs were found in his pocket. (Ibid.) The defendant moved to suppress the drugs found in his pocket. the Supreme Court focused on the issue of whether the initial detention outside the premises was proper. (Id. at p. 694 101 S. Ct. at pp. 2589-2590.) In other words, the issue was whether the officers had the authority to require the defendant to reenter the house and remain there while they conducted the search. First, the court noted that there was a prearrest "seizure" of the defendant and it assumed the seizure was without probable cause. (Michigan v. Summers, supra, 452 U.S. 692, 696 101 S. Ct. 2587, 2590-2591.) After stating the importance of the probable cause standard, the court noted that "some seizures significantly less intrusive than an arrest have withstood scrutiny under the reasonableness standard embodied in the Fourth Amendment. In these cases the intrusion on the citizen's privacy 'was so much less severe' than that involved in a traditional arrest that 'the opposing interests in crime prevention and detection and in the police officer's safety' could support the seizure as reasonable. " (Id. at pp. 696-697 101 S. Ct. at p. 2591.) Conversely, the court noted several cases in which it held a detention was unreasonable in the absence of any articulable facts available to the officer. (Id. at p. 699, fn. 9 101 S. Ct. at p. 2592.) The court concluded: "These cases recognize that some seizures admittedly covered by the Fourth Amendment constitute such limited intrusions on the personal security of those detained and are justified by such substantial law enforcement interests that they may be made on less than probable cause, so long as police have an articulable basis for suspecting criminal activity." (Id. at p. 699 101 S. Ct. at pp. 2592-2593.) The applicability of this exception for limited intrusions that are justified by special law enforcement interests depends upon the character of the official intrusion and its justification. (Id. at p. 701 101 S. Ct. at pp. 2593-2594.) A significant factor in evaluating the character of the intrusion is that it was pursuant to a search warrant, i.e., a neutral magistrate had concluded that there was probable cause to believe that the law was being violated in the house. (Michigan v. Summers, supra, 452 U.S. 692, 701 101 S. Ct. 2587, 2593-2594.) The warrant thus provided an objective justification for the detention. (Id. at p. 703 101 S. Ct. at p. 2594.) Other significant factors in evaluating the justification are the legitimate law enforcement interest in preventing flight if contraband is found, and officer safety considerations. (Id. at p. 702 101 S. Ct. at p. 2594.) Emphasizing the value of obtaining a search or arrest warrant, the court held: "If the evidence that a citizen's residence is harboring contraband is sufficient to persuade a judicial officer that an invasion of the citizen's privacy is justified, it is constitutionally reasonable to require that citizen to remain while officers of the law execute a valid warrant to search his home. Thus, for Fourth Amendment purposes, we hold that a warrant to search for contraband founded on probable cause implicitly carries with it the limited authority to detain the occupants of the premises while a proper search is conducted." (Id. at pp. 704-705 101 S. Ct. at p. 2595, fns. omitted.)