Supreme Court Landmark Cases on Search Incident to Arrest
The Fourth Amendment provides that 'the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.' 'At the very core' of the Fourth Amendment 'stands the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion.' With few exceptions, the question whether a warrantless search of a home is reasonable and hence constitutional must be answered no." (Kyllo v. United States (2001) 533 U.S. 27, 31.)
The limited scope of one of the "few exceptions" (Kyllo v. United States, supra, 533 U.S. at p. 31) to the warrant requirement is set forth in Chimel v. California, supra, 395 U.S. 752, which outlines the "proper extent" of "the 'search incident to arrest' principle" (id. at p. 762).
First, to effect the arrest in a safe manner, "it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the person arrested in order to remove any weapons that the latter might seek to use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape." (Id. at p. 763.)
Second, the police may conduct a "search for and seize any evidence on the arrestee's person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction." (Ibid.)
For the foregoing purposes only, "the area into which an arrestee might reach in order to grab a weapon or evidentiary items"--i.e., "the area 'within his immediate control'"--is "governed by a like rule." (Ibid.)