MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.
On the afternoon of November 10, 1961, the petitioner, William Beck, was driving his automobile in the vicinity
Although the police officers did not obtain a warrant before arresting the petitioner and searching his automobile and his person, the Supreme Court of Ohio found the search nonetheless constitutionally valid as a search incident to a lawful arrest. And it is upon that basis that the Ohio decision has been supported by the respondent here. See Draper v. United States, 358 U.S. 307; Ker v. California, 374 U.S. 23.
There are limits to the permissible scope of a warrantless search incident to a lawful arrest, but we proceed on the premise that, if the arrest itself was lawful, those limits were not exceeded here. See Harris v. United States, 331 U.S. 145; United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56; cf. Preston v. United States, 376 U.S. 364. The constitutional validity of the search in this case, then, must depend upon the constitutional validity of the petitioner's arrest. Whether that arrest was constitutionally valid depends in turn upon whether, at the moment the arrest was made, the officers had probable cause to make it—whether at that moment the facts and circumstances within their knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information were sufficient to warrant a prudent man in believing that the petitioner had committed or was committing an offense. Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S. 160, 175-176; Henry v. United States, 361 U.S. 98, 102. "The rule of probable cause is a practical, nontechnical conception affording the best compromise that has been found for accommodating . . . often opposing interests. Requiring more would unduly hamper law enforcement. To allow less would be to leave law-abiding citizens at the mercy of the officers' whim or caprice." Brinegar v. United States, supra, at 176.
The trial court made no findings of fact in this case. The trial judge simply made a conclusory statement: "A lawful arrest has been made, and this was a search incidental to that lawful arrest." The Court of Appeals merely found "no error prejudicial to the appellant." In the Supreme Court of Ohio, Judge Zimmerman's opinion contained a narrative recital which is accurately
The record is meager, consisting only of the testimony of one of the arresting officers, given at the hearing on the motion to suppress. As to the officer's own knowledge of the petitioner before the arrest, the record shows no more than that the officer "had a police picture of him and knew what he looked like," and that the officer knew that the petitioner had "a record in connection with clearing house and scheme of chance."
When the constitutional validity of an arrest is challenged, it is the function of a court to determine whether the facts available to the officers at the moment of the arrest would "warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief" that an offense has been committed. Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 162. If the court is not informed of the facts upon which the arresting officers acted, it cannot properly discharge that function. All that the trial court was told in this case was that the officers knew what the petitioner looked like and knew
It is possible that an informer did in fact relate information to the police officer in this case which constituted probable cause for the petitioner's arrest. But when the constitutional validity of that arrest was challenged, it was incumbent upon the prosecution to show with considerably more specificity than was shown in this case what the informer actually said, and why the officer thought the information was credible. We may assume that the officers acted in good faith in arresting the petitioner. But "good faith on the part of the arresting officers is not enough." Henry v. United States, 361 U.S. 98, 102. If subjective good faith alone were the test, the protections of the Fourth Amendment would evaporate, and the people would be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects," only in the discretion of the police.
MR. JUSTICE CLARK, with whom MR. JUSTICE BLACK joins, dissenting.
The Supreme Court of Ohio, 175 Ohio St. 73, 74, 191 N.E.2d 825, 827, "determined" the following facts in this case:
These are the facts upon which Ohio's highest court based its opinion and they have support in the record.
The syllabus rule, Rule VI, peculiar to that State and of which the majority speaks, was promulgated in 1858, 5 Ohio St. vii, and provides:
As my late Brother of revered memory, Mr. Justice Burton of Ohio, said in the Ohio case of Perkins v. Benguet Consol. Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437, 442, n. 3 (1952), "[a] syllabus must be read in the light of the facts in the case, even where brought out in the accompanying opinion rather than in the syllabus itself." The good Justice was only following Ohio's own cases. See Williamson Heater Co. v. Radich, 128 Ohio St. 124, 190 N. E. 403 (1934); Perkins v. Bright, 109 Ohio St. 14, 19-20, 141 N. E. 689, 690 (1923); In re Poage, 87 Ohio St. 72, 82-83, 100 N. E. 125, 127-128 (1912).
Believing that the Ohio Supreme Court's findings, set out above, fully support its conclusion that probable cause existed in this case in support of the arrest and the search incident thereto, I would affirm.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, dissenting.
Judge Zimmerman of the Supreme Court of Ohio stated as a fact,
Generally "our inquiry clearly is limited to a study of the undisputed portions of the record." Thomas v. Arizona, 356 U.S. 390, 402. "[T]here has been complete agreement that any conflict in testimony as to what actually led to a contested confession [or to a contested arrest] is not this Court's concern. Such conflict comes here authoritatively resolved by the State's adjudication." Watts v. Indiana, 338 U.S. 49, 51-52. See also, Gallegos v. Nebraska, 342 U.S. 55, 60-61; Haley v. Ohio, 332 U.S. 596, 597-598. It is equally clear that in cases involving asserted violations of constitutional rights the Court is free to draw its own inferences from established facts, giving due weight to the conclusions of the state court, but not being conclusively bound by them, Ker v. California, 374 U.S. 23; Spano v. New York, 360 U.S. 315.
A distinction between facts and inferences may often be difficult to draw, but the guiding principle for this Court should be that when a question is in doubt and demeanor and credibility of witnesses, or contemporaneous understandings of the parties, have a part to play in its resolution, this Court should be extremely slow to upset a state court's inferential findings. The impetus for our exercising de novo review of the facts comes from the attitude that unless this Court can fully redetermine the facts of each case for itself, it will be unable to afford complete protection for constitutional rights. But when the "feel" of the trial may have been a proper element in resolving an issue which is unclear on the record, our independent judgment should give way to the greater
Federal habeas corpus, which allows a federal court in appropriate circumstances to develop a fresh record, Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, provides a far more satisfactory vehicle for resolving such unclear issues, for the judge can evaluate for himself the on-the-spot considerations which no appellate court can estimate with assurance on a cold record. Those considerations are important to the case at bar.
While I agree that the record is not free from all doubt, I believe that the following selected portions of the testimony of one of the arresting officers are sufficient to carry the day for the State's judgment:
It is true that the officer never specifically said "The informant told me that Beck was operating in the area of East 115th Street and Beulah," but he did testify that he went looking for Beck in that specific area, that he was acting in part on information, and that his information had been related to him by some specific person whose name he felt privileged not to divulge. I find the state court inference reasonable, even on the basis of the admittedly sparse record before us, that the informant told the officer that Beck was operating in the mentioned area.
Furthermore, in reaching this inference, on-the-spot considerations might well have come into play. There appears to have been no lack of common understanding at trial that the informant had given the officer the crucial information. Petitioner argued in the Ohio Supreme Court, "the pattern is obvious, an officer testifies he had information from a confidential source that a particular person is `picking up' numbers in a given area and based on that information they arrest such person `on sight' without a warrant."
On this basis I vote to affirm.
"No person shall own, possess, have on or about his person, have in his custody, or have under his control a ticket, order, or device for or representing a number of shares or an interest in a scheme of chance known as `policy,' `numbers game,' `clearing house,' or by words or terms of similar import, located in or to be drawn, paid, or carried on within or without this state.
"Whoever violates this section shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars and imprisoned not more than six months for a first offense; for each subsequent offense, such person shall be fined not less than five hundred nor more than one thousand dollars and imprisoned not less than one nor more than three years."
Later he testified as follows:
"Q. You indicated that you knew of Mr. Beck's previous record?
"A. Yes, I did.
"Q. What was that, sir?
"A. Three arrests for clearing house violations.
"Q. When was this?
"A. They were all during the year 1959, I believe.
"Q. All during the year 1959?
"Q. Then you didn't have any arrests that you knew of as far as 1960 was concerned?
"A. Not to my knowledge."
"A. A few minutes before 1:00 p. m. that afternoon.
"Q. And he was in his automobile?
"A. He was driving his automobile.
"Q. He was proceeding then lawfully down the street?
"A. He was operating north on 115th Street.
"Q. And you stopped him?
"A. We stopped him going east on Beulah.
"Q. You did not stop him for any traffic offense?
"A. No; I did not stop him for that reason.
"Q. You caused him to pull over to the curb?
"A. I identified myself and requested him to pull over to the curb.
"Q. Then you searched his automobile?
"A. Yes, I did.
"Q. Prior to that, did you indicate to him that he was under arrest?
"A. Not while searching the automobile.
"Q. In other words, you searched the automobile before you placed him under arrest?
"A. I placed him under arrest just as we were searching the automobile.
"Q. Prior to that time, you had not discovered anything that was illegal?
"A. Other than a hunting knife in the automobile, that was it.
"Q. Why then did you place him under arrest?
"A. I placed him under arrest for a clearing house operation, scheme of chance.
"Q. At that time, you had discovered some evidence of a scheme of chance?
"A. I did not.
"Q. At the time you placed him under arrest, you did not have any evidence?
"A. Other than information."