The Law School Authority

United States v. Edwards Case Brief

Summary of United States v. Edwards, Supreme Court of United States (1974)

Respondent/Defendant: Edwards; the defendant was arrested for attempting to break into a post office. The morning after his arrest, the police officers bought new clothing for the defendant and they took his original clothes and found paint chips on the defendant’s clothing which linked him to the crime. The defendant was convicted, but the court of appeals reversed the conviction ruling that the officers needed a warrant before taking the clothing of the defendant.

Issue: Did the officers need a warrant to search the clothing of the defendant about 10 hours after he was lawfully arrested?

Holding: No

Legal Reasoning: The court ruled that “once a defendant is lawfully arrested and is in custody, the effects in his possession at the place of detention that were subject to search at the time and place of his arrest may lawfully be searched and seized without a warrant even though a substantial period of time has elapsed between the arrest and subsequent administrative processing on the one hand and the taking of the property for use as evidence on the other.” So the ruling of the lower court was reversed.

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