U.S. Supreme Court
Search and Seizure – search incident to execution of warrant
Officers may only conduct a search incident to the execution of a search warrant on persons present at the premises.
As recognized in Summers, the detention of a current occupant “represents only an incremental intrusion on personal liberty when the search of a home has been authorized by a valid warrant,” 452 U. S., at 703, but an arrest of an individual away from his home involves an additional level of intrusiveness. A public detention, even if merely incident to a search, will resemble a full-fledged arrest and can involve the indignity of a compelled transfer back to the premises.
Limiting the rule in Summers to the area within which an occupant poses a real threat to the safe and efficient execution of a search warrant ensures that the scope of the detention incident to a search is confined to its underlying justification. Because petitioner was detained at a point beyond any reasonable understanding of immediate vicinity, there is no need to further define that term here. Since detention is justified by the interests in executing a safe and efficient search, the decision to detain must be acted upon at the scene of the search and not at a later time in a more remote place.
652 F. 3d 197, reversed and remanded.
Kennedy, J.; Scalia, J., concurring; Breyer, J., dissenting.