Justice Souter, delivered the opinion of the Court.
The question is whether the Fourth Amendment forbids a warrantless arrest for a minor criminal offense, such as a misdemeanor seatbelt violation punishable only by a fine. We hold that it does not.
In Texas, if a car is equipped with safety belts, a frontseat passenger must wear one, Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 545.413(a) (1999), and the driver must secure any small child riding in front, § 545.413(b). Violation of either provision is "a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not less than $25 or more than $50." § 545.413(d). Texas law expressly authorizes "[a]ny peace officer [to] arrest without warrant a person found committing a violation" of these seatbelt laws, § 543.001, although it permits police to issue citations in lieu of arrest, §§ 543.003-543.005.
In March 1997, petitioner Gail Atwater was driving her pickup truck in Lago Vista, Texas, with her 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter in the front seat. None of them was
Atwater asked to take her "frightened, upset, and crying" children to a friend's house nearby, but Turek told her, "[y]ou're not going anywhere." Ibid. As it turned out, Atwater's friend learned what was going on and soon arrived to take charge of the children. Turek then handcuffed Atwater, placed her in his squad car, and drove her to the local police station, where booking officers had her remove her shoes, jewelry, and eyeglasses, and empty her pockets. Officers took Atwater's "mug shot" and placed her, alone, in a jail cell for about one hour, after which she was taken before a magistrate and released on $310 bond.
Atwater was charged with driving without her seatbelt fastened, failing to secure her children in seatbelts, driving without a license, and failing to provide proof of insurance. She ultimately pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor seatbelt offenses and paid a $50 fine; the other charges were dismissed.
Atwater and her husband, petitioner Michael Haas, filed suit in a Texas state court under 42 U. S. C. § 1983 against Turek and respondents City of Lago Vista and Chief of Police Frank Miller. So far as concerns us, petitioners (whom we will simply call Atwater) alleged that respondents (for simplicity, the City) had violated Atwater's Fourth Amendment "right to be free from unreasonable seizure," App. 23, and sought compensatory and punitive damages.
The City removed the suit to the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. Given Atwater's admission that she had "violated the law" and the absence of any allegation "that she was harmed or detained in any way inconsistent with the law," the District Court ruled the Fourth Amendment claim "meritless" and granted the City's summary judgment motion. No. A-97 CA 679 SS (WD Tex., Feb. 13, 1999), App. to Pet. for Cert. 50a—63a. A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed. 165 F.3d 380 (1999). It concluded that "an arrest for a first-time seat belt offense" was an unreasonable seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, id., at 387, and held that Turek was not entitled to qualified immunity, id., at 389.
Sitting en banc, the Court of Appeals vacated the panel's decision and affirmed the District Court's summary judgment for the City. 195 F.3d 242 (CA5 1999). Relying on Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996), the en banc court observed that, although the Fourth Amendment generally requires a balancing of individual and governmental interests, where "an arrest is based on probable cause then `with rare exceptions . . .the result of that balancing is not in doubt.' " 195 F. 3d, at 244 (quoting Whren, supra, at 817). Because "[n]either party dispute[d] that Officer Turek had probable cause to arrest Atwater," and because "there [was] no evidence in the record that Officer Turek conducted the arrest in an `extraordinary manner, unusually harmful' to Atwater's
Three judges issued dissenting opinions. On the understanding that citation is the "usual procedure" in a traffic stop situation, Judge Reynaldo Garza thought Atwater's arrest unreasonable, since there was no particular reason for taking her into custody. 195 F. 3d, at 246-247. Judge Weiner likewise believed that "even with probable cause, [an] officer must have a plausible, articulable reason" for making a custodial arrest. Id., at 251. Judge Dennis understood the Fourth Amendment to have incorporated an earlier, common-law prohibition on warrantless arrests for misdemeanors that do not amount to or involve a "breach of the peace." Ibid.
We granted certiorari to consider whether the Fourth Amendment, either by incorporating common-law restrictions on misdemeanor arrests or otherwise, limits police officers' authority to arrest without warrant for minor criminal offenses. 530 U.S. 1260 (2000). We now affirm.
The Fourth Amendment safeguards "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." In reading the Amendment, we are guided by "the traditional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures afforded by the common law at the time of the framing," Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 927, 931 (1995), since "[a]n examination of the common-law understanding of an officer's authority to arrest sheds light on the obviously relevant, if not entirely dispositive, consideration of what the Framers of the Amendment might have thought to be reasonable," Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 591 (1980) (footnote omitted). Thus, the first step here is to assess Atwater's claim that peace officers' authority to make warrantless arrests for misdemeanors was
We begin with the state of pre-founding English common law and find that, even after making some allowance for variations in the common-law usage of the term "breach of the peace,"
Atwater's historical argument begins with our quotation from Halsbury in Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132 (1925), that
On one side of the divide there are certainly eminent authorities supporting Atwater's position. In addition to Lord Halsbury, quoted in Carroll, James Fitzjames Stephen and Glanville Williams both seemed to indicate that the common law confined warrantless misdemeanor arrests to actual breaches of the peace. See 1 J. Stephen, A History of the Criminal Law of England 193 (1883) ("The common law did not authorise the arrest of persons guilty or suspected of misdemeanours, except in cases of an actual breach of the peace either by an affray or by violence to an individual"); G. Williams, Arrest for Breach of the Peace, 1954 Crim. L. Rev. 578, 578 ("Apart from arrest for felony . . . , the only power of arrest at common law is in respect of breach of the peace"). See also Queen v. Tooley, 2 Ld. Raym. 1296, 1301, 92 Eng. Rep. 349, 352 (Q. B. 1710) ("[A] constable cannot arrest, but when he sees an actual breach of the peace; and if the affray be over, he cannot arrest").
Sir William Blackstone and Sir Edward East might also be counted on Atwater's side, although they spoke only to the sufficiency of breach of the peace as a condition to warrantless
The great commentators were not unanimous, however, and there is also considerable evidence of a broader conception of common-law misdemeanor arrest authority unlimited by any breach-of-the-peace condition. Sir Matthew Hale, Chief Justice of King's Bench from 1671 to 1676,
As will be seen later, the view of warrantless arrest authority as extending to at least "some misdemeanors" beyond breaches of the peace was undoubtedly informed by statutory provisions authorizing such arrests, but it reflected common law in the strict, judge-made sense as well, for such was the holding of at least one case reported before Hale had even become a judge but which, like Hale's own commentary, continued to be cited well after the ratification of the Fourth Amendment. In Holyday v. Oxenbridge, Cro. Car. 234, 79 Eng. Rep. 805 (1631), the Court of King's Bench held that even a private person (and thus a fortiori a peace officer
We thus find disagreement, not unanimity, among both the common-law jurists and the text writers who sought to pull the cases together and summarize accepted practice. Having reviewed the relevant English decisions, as well as English and colonial American legal treatises, legal dictionaries, and procedure manuals, we simply are not convinced that Atwater's is the correct, or even necessarily the better, reading of the common-law history.
A second, and equally serious, problem for Atwater's historical argument is posed by the "divers Statutes," M. Dalton, Country Justice, ch. 170, § 4, p. 582 (1727), enacted by Parliament well before this Republic's founding that authorized warrantless misdemeanor arrests without reference to violence or turmoil. Quite apart from Hale and Blackstone, the legal background of any conception of reasonableness the Fourth Amendment's Framers might have entertained would have included English statutes, some centuries old, authorizing peace officers (and even private persons) to make warrantless arrests for all sorts of relatively minor offenses unaccompanied by violence. The so-called "nightwalker" statutes are perhaps the most notable examples. From the enactment of the Statute of Winchester in 1285, through its various readoptions and until its repeal in 1827,
Nor were the nightwalker statutes the only legislative sources of warrantless arrest authority absent real or threatened violence, as the parties and their amici here seem to have assumed. On the contrary, following the Edwardian legislation and throughout the period leading up to the framing, Parliament repeatedly extended warrantless arrest power to cover misdemeanor-level offenses not involving any breach of the peace. One 16th-century statute, for instance, authorized peace officers to arrest persons playing "unlawful game[s]" like bowling, tennis, dice, and cards, and for good measure extended the authority beyond players to include persons "haunting" the "houses, places and alleys where such games shall be suspected to be holden, exercised, used
The significance of these early English statutes lies not in proving that any common-law rule barring warrantless misdemeanor arrests that might have existed would have been subject to statutory override; the sovereign Parliament could of course have wiped away any judge-made rule. The point is that the statutes riddle Atwater's supposed common-law rule with enough exceptions to unsettle any contention that the law of the mother country would have left the Fourth Amendment's Framers of a view that it would necessarily have been unreasonable to arrest without warrant for a misdemeanor unaccompanied by real or threatened violence.
An examination of specifically American evidence is to the same effect. Neither the history of the framing era nor subsequent legal development indicates that the Fourth Amendment was originally understood, or has traditionally been read, to embrace Atwater's position.
To begin with, Atwater has cited no particular evidence that those who framed and ratified the Fourth Amendment sought to limit peace officers' warrantless misdemeanor arrest authority to instances of actual breach of the peace, and our own review of the recent and respected compilations of framing-era documentary history has likewise failed to reveal any such design. See The Complete Bill of Rights 223— 263 (N. Cogan ed. 1997) (collecting original sources); 5 The Founders' Constitution 219-244 (P. Kurland & R. Lerner eds. 1987) (same). Nor have we found in any of the modern historical accounts of the Fourth Amendment's adoption any substantial indication that the Framers intended such a restriction. See, e. g., L. Levy, Origins of the Bill of Rights 150-179 (1999); T. Taylor, Two Studies in Constitutional Interpretation 19-93 (1969); J. Landynski, Search and Seizure and the Supreme Court 19-48 (1966); N. Lasson, History and Development of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution 79-105 (1937); Davies, Recovering the Original Fourth Amendment, 98 Mich. L. Rev. 547 (1999); Amar, Fourth Amendment First Principles, 107 Harv. L. Rev. 757 (1994); Bradley, Constitutional Theory of the Fourth Amendment, 38 DePaul L. Rev. 817 (1989). Indeed, to the extent these modern histories address the issue, their conclusions are to the contrary. See Landynski, supra, at 45 (Fourth Amendment arrest rules are "based on common-law practice," which "dispensed with" a warrant requirement for misdemeanors "committed in the presence of the arresting officer"); Davies, supra, at 551 ("[T]he Framers did not address
The evidence of actual practice also counsels against Atwater's position. During the period leading up to and surrounding the framing of the Bill of Rights, colonial and state legislatures, like Parliament before them, supra, at 333-335, regularly authorized local peace officers to make warrantless misdemeanor arrests without conditioning statutory authority on breach of the peace. See, e. g., First Laws of the State of Connecticut 214-215 (Cushing ed. 1982) (1784 compilation; exact date of Act unknown) (authorizing warrantless arrests of "all Persons unnecessarily travelling on the Sabbath or Lord's Day"); id., at 23 ("such as are guilty of Drunkenness, profane Swearing, Sabbath-breaking, also vagrant Persons [and] unseasonable Night-walkers"); Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia 1755-1800, p. 411 (H. Marbury & W. Crawford eds. 1802) (1762 Act) (breakers of the Sabbath laws); id., at 252 (1764 Act) (persons "gaming . . . in any licensed public house, or other house sellingliquors"); Colonial Laws of Massachusetts 139 (1889) (1646 Act) ("such as are overtaken with drink, swearing, Sabbath breaking, Lying, vagrant persons, [and] night-walkers"); Laws of the State of New Hampshire 549 (1800) (1799 Act) (persons "travelling unnecessarily" on Sunday); Digest of the Laws of New Jersey 1709-1838, pp. 585-586 (L. Elmer ed. 1838) (1799 Act) ("vagrants or vagabonds, common drunkards, common night-walkers, and common prostitutes," as well as fortunetellers and other practitioners of "crafty science"); Laws of the State of New York, 1777-1784, pp. 358-359 (1886) (1781 Act) ("hawker[s]" and "pedlar[s]"); Earliest Printed Laws of New York, 1665-1693, p. 133 (J. Cushing ed. 1978) (Duke of York's Laws, 1665-1675) ("such as are overtaken with Drink, Swearing, Sabbath breaking, Vagrant persons or night walkers"); 3 Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 177-183
What we have here, then, is just the opposite of what we had in Wilson v. Arkansas. There, we emphasized that during the founding era a number of States had "enacted statutes specifically embracing" the common-law knock-andannounce rule, 514 U. S., at 933; here, by contrast, those very same States passed laws extending warrantless arrest authority to a host of nonviolent misdemeanors, and in so doing acted very much inconsistently with Atwater's claims about the Fourth Amendment's object. Of course, the Fourth
The record thus supports Justice Powell's observation that "[t]here is no historical evidence that the Framers or proponents of the Fourth Amendment, outspokenly opposed to the infamous general warrants and writs of assistance, were at
Nor does Atwater's argument from tradition pick up any steam from the historical record as it has unfolded since the framing, there being no indication that her claimed rule has ever become "woven . . . into the fabric" of American law. Wilson, supra, at 933; see also Payton v. New York, 445 U. S., at 590 (emphasizing "the clear consensus among the States adhering to [a] well-settled common-law rule"). The story, on the contrary, is of two centuries of uninterrupted (and largely unchallenged) state and federal practice permitting warrantless arrests for misdemeanors not amounting to or involving breach of the peace.
First, there is no support for Atwater's position in this Court's cases (apart from the isolated sentence in Carroll, already explained). Although the Court has not had much to say about warrantless misdemeanor arrest authority, what little we have said tends to cut against Atwater's argument. In discussing this authority, we have focused on the circumstance that an offense was committed in an officer's presence, to the omission of any reference to a breach-of-the-peace limitation.
Second, and again in contrast with Wilson, it is not the case here that "[e]arly American courts . . .embraced" an accepted common-law rule with anything approaching unanimity. Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U. S., at 933. To be sure, Atwater has cited several 19th-century decisions that, at least at first glance, might seem to support her contention that "warrantless misdemeanor arrest was unlawful when not [for] a breach of the peace." Brief for Petitioners 17 (citing Pow v. Beckner, 3 Ind. 475, 478 (1852), Commonwealth v. Carey, 66 Mass. 246, 250 (1853), and Robison v. Miner, 68 Mich. 549, 556-559, 37 N. W. 21, 25 (1888)). But none is ultimately availing. Pow is fundamentally a "presence" case; it stands only for the proposition, not at issue here, see n. 11, supra, that a nonfelony arrest should be made while the offense is "in [the officer's] view and . . . still continuing" and not subsequently "upon vague information communicated to him." 3 Ind., at 478. The language Atwater attributes to Carey ("[E]ven if he were a constable, he had no power to arrest for any misdemeanor without a warrant, except to stay a breach of the peace, or to prevent the commission of such an offense") is taken from the reporter's summary of one of the party's arguments, not from the opinion of the court. While the court in Carey (through Chief Justice Shaw) said that "the old established rule of the common law" was that "a constable or other peace officer could not
The reports may well contain early American cases more favorable to Atwater's position than the ones she has herself invoked. But more to the point, we think, are the numerous early- and mid-19th-century decisions expressly sustaining (often against constitutional challenge) state and local laws authorizing peace officers to make warrantless arrests for misdemeanors not involving any breach of the peace. See, e. g., Mayo v. Wilson, 1 N.H. 53 (1817) (upholding statute authorizing warrantless arrests of those unnecessarily traveling on Sunday against challenge based on state due process and search-and-seizure provisions); Holcomb v. Cornish, 8 Conn. 375 (1831) (upholding statute permitting warrantless arrests for "drunkenness, profane swearing, cursing or sabbath-breaking" against argument that "[t]he power of a justice of the peace to arrest and detain a citizen without complaint or warrant against him, is surely not given by the
Finally, both the legislative tradition of granting warrantless misdemeanor arrest authority and the judicial tradition of sustaining such statutes against constitutional attack are buttressed by legal commentary that, for more than a century now, has almost uniformly recognized the constitutionality of extending warrantless arrest power to misdemeanors without limitation to breaches of the peace. See, e. g., E. Fisher, Laws of Arrest § 59, p. 130 (1967) ("[I]t is generally recognized today that the common law authority to arrest without a warrant in misdemeanor cases may be enlarged by
Small wonder, then, that today statutes in all 50 States and the District of Columbia permit warrantless misdemeanor arrests by at least some (if not all) peace officers without requiring any breach of the peace,
While it is true here that history, if not unequivocal, has expressed a decided, majority view that the police need not obtain an arrest warrant merely because a misdemeanor stopped short of violence or a threat of it, Atwater does not wager all on history.
If we were to derive a rule exclusively to address the uncontested facts of this case, Atwater might well prevail. She was a known and established resident of Lago Vista with no place to hide and no incentive to flee, and common sense says she would almost certainly have buckled up as a condition of driving off with a citation. In her case, the physical incidents of arrest were merely gratuitous humiliations imposed by a police officer who was (at best) exercising
But we have traditionally recognized that a responsible Fourth Amendment balance is not well served by standards requiring sensitive, case-by-case determinations of government need, lest every discretionary judgment in the field be converted into an occasion for constitutional review. See, e. g., United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 234-235 (1973). Often enough, the Fourth Amendment has to be applied on the spur (and in the heat) of the moment, and the object in implementing its command of reasonableness is to draw standards sufficiently clear and simple to be applied with a fair prospect of surviving judicial second-guessing months and years after an arrest or search is made. Courts attempting to strike a reasonable Fourth Amendment balance thus credit the government's side with an essential interest in readily administrable rules. See New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454, 458 (1981) (Fourth Amendment rules "`ought to be expressed in terms that are readily applicable by the police in the context of the law enforcement activities in which they are necessarily engaged' " and not "`qualified by all sorts of ifs, ands, and buts' ").
At first glance, Atwater's argument may seem to respect the values of clarity and simplicity, so far as she claims that the Fourth Amendment generally forbids warrantless arrests for minor crimes not accompanied by violence or some
One line, she suggests, might be between "jailable" and "fine-only" offenses, between those for which conviction could result in commitment and those for which it could not. The trouble with this distinction, of course, is that an officer on the street might not be able to tell. It is not merely that we cannot expect every police officer to know the details of frequently complex penalty schemes, see Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 431, n. 13 (1984) ("[O]fficers in the field frequently `have neither the time nor the competence to determine' the severity of the offense for which they are considering arresting a person"), but that penalties for ostensibly identical conduct can vary on account of facts difficult (if not impossible) to know at the scene of an arrest. Is this the first offense or is the suspect a repeat offender?
But Atwater's refinements would not end there. She represents that if the line were drawn at nonjailable traffic offenses, her proposed limitation should be qualified by a proviso authorizing warrantless arrests where "necessary for enforcement of the traffic laws or when [an] offense would otherwise continue and pose a danger to others on the road." Brief for Petitioners 46 (internal quotation marks omitted). (Were the line drawn at misdemeanors generally, a comparable qualification would presumably apply.) The proviso only compounds the difficulties. Would, for instance, either exception apply to speeding? At oral argument, Atwater's counsel said that "it would not be reasonable to arrest a driver for speeding unless the speeding rose to the level of reckless driving." Tr. of Oral Arg. 16. But is it not fair to expect that the chronic speeder will speed again despite a citation in his pocket, and should that not qualify as showing that the "offense would . . . continue" under Atwater's rule? And why, as a constitutional matter, should we assume that only reckless driving will "pose a danger to others on the road" while speeding will not?
One may ask, of course, why these difficulties may not be answered by a simple tie breaker for the police to follow in the field: if in doubt, do not arrest. The first answer is that in practice the tie breaker would boil down to something akin to a least-restrictive-alternative limitation, which is itself one of those "ifs, ands, and buts" rules, New York v. Belton, 453 U. S., at 458, generally thought inappropriate in working out Fourth Amendment protection. See, e. g., Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives' Assn., 489 U.S. 602,
Just how easily the costs could outweigh the benefits may be shown by asking, as one Member of this Court did at oral argument, "how bad the problem is out there." Tr. of Oral Arg. 20. The very fact that the law has never jelled the way Atwater would have it leads one to wonder whether warrantless misdemeanor arrests need constitutional attention,
The upshot of all these influences, combined with the good sense (and, failing that, the political accountability) of most local lawmakers and law-enforcement officials, is a dearth of horribles demanding redress. Indeed, when Atwater's counsel was asked at oral argument for any indications of comparably foolish, warrantless misdemeanor arrests, he could offer only one.
Accordingly, we confirm today what our prior cases have intimated: the standard of probable cause "applie[s] to all arrests, without the need to `balance' the interests and circumstances involved in particular situations." Dunaway v. New York, 442 U.S. 200, 208 (1979). If an officer has probable cause to believe that an individual has committed even a very minor criminal offense in his presence, he may, without violating the Fourth Amendment, arrest the offender.
Atwater's arrest satisfied constitutional requirements. There is no dispute that Officer Turek had probable cause to believe that Atwater had committed a crime in his presence. She admits that neither she nor her children were wearing seatbelts, as required by Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 545.413 (1999). Turek was accordingly authorized (not required, but authorized) to make a custodial arrest without balancing costs and benefits or determining whether or not Atwater's arrest was in some sense necessary.
Nor was the arrest made in an "extraordinary manner, unusually harmful to [her] privacy or . . . physical interests." Whren v. United States, 517 U. S., at 818. As our citations in Whren make clear, the question whether a search or seizure is "extraordinary" turns, above all else, on the manner in which the search or seizure is executed. See ibid. (citing Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985) ("seizure by means of deadly force"), Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 927 (1995) ("unannounced entry into a home"), Welsh v. Wisconsin, 466 U.S. 740 (1984) ("entry into a home without a warrant"), and Winston v. Lee, 470 U.S. 753 (1985) ("physical penetration of the body")). Atwater's arrest was surely "humiliating," as she says in her brief, but it was no more "harmful to . . . privacy or . . . physical interests" than the normal custodial arrest. She was handcuffed, placed in a squad car, and
The Court of Appeals's en banc judgment is affirmed.
It is so ordered.
APPENDIX TO OPINION OF THE COURT
State Statutes Authorizing Warrantless Misdemeanor Arrests Ala. Code § 15-10-3(a)(1) (Supp. 2000) (authorizing warrantless arrest for any "public offense" committed in the presence of the officer);
Alaska Stat. Ann. § 12.25.030(a)(1) (2000) ("for a crime committed . . . in the presence of the person making the arrest");
Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-3883(a)(2) (Supp. 2000) (for a misdemeanor committed in the officer's presence);
Ark. Code Ann. § 16-81-106(b)(2)(a) (Supp. 1999) ("where a public offense is committed in [the officer's] presence");
Cal. Penal Code Ann. § 836(a)(1) (West Supp. 2001) (where "the person to be arrested has committed a public offense in the officer's presence");
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 16-3—102(1)(b) (2000) (when "[a]ny crime has been or is being committed" in the officer's presence); Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-1f(a) (Supp. 2000) (for "any offense" when arrestee is taken in the act);
Del. Code Ann., Tit. 11, § 1904(a)(1) (1995) (for any misdemeanor committed in the officer's presence);
Fla. Stat. § 901.15(1) (Supp. 2001) (for misdemeanor or ordinance violation committed in presence of the officer);
Ga. Code Ann. § 17-4—20(a) (Supp. 1996) ("for a crime . . . if the offense is committed in [the] officer's presence");
Haw. Rev. Stat. § 803-5(a) (1999) ("when the officer has probable cause to believe that [a] person has committed any offense");
Idaho Code § 19-603(1) (1997) ("[f]or a public offense committed or attempted in [officer's] presence");
Ill. Comp. Stat., ch. 725, § 5/107-2(1)(c) (1992) (when the officer "has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is committing or has committed an offense");
Ind. Code § 35-33-1—1(a)(4) (Supp. 2000) (when the officer has probable cause to believe a person "is committing or attempting to commit a misdemeanor in the officer's presence");
Iowa Code § 804.7(1) (1994) ("[f]or a public offense committed or attempted in the peace officer's presence");
Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-2401(d) (1999 Cum. Supp.) (for "[a]ny crime, except a traffic infraction or a cigarette or tobacco infraction," committed in the officer's view);
Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 431.005(1)(d) (Michie 1999) (for any offense punishable by confinement committed in the officer's presence); § 431.015(2) (Supp. 2000) (officer should generally issue citation rather than arrest for certain minor "violations");
La. Code Crim. Proc. Ann., Art. 213(3) (West 1991) (where the officer "has reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed an offense");
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann., Tit. 15, § 704 (1980) ("persons found violating any law of the State or any legal ordinance or bylaw
Md. Ann. Code, Art. 27, § 594B(a) (1996 and 2000 Supp.) (any person who commits, or attempts to commit, "any felony or misdemeanor" in the presence of an officer);
Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 276, § 28 (1997) (for designated misdemeanor offenses); ch. 272, § 60 (for littering offenses where identity of arrestee is not known to officer);
Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 764.15(1)(a) (West 2000) (for felony, misdemeanor, or ordinance violation committed in the officer's presence);
Minn. Stat. § 629.34(1)(c)(1) (Supp. 2001) ("when a public offense has been committed or attempted in the officer's presence");
Miss. Code Ann. § 99-3—7 (Supp. 1998) (for indictable offense committed in presence of officer); § 45-3—21(1)(a)(vi) (by Highway Safety Patrol Officers of "any person or persons committing or attempting to commit any misdemeanor, felony or breach of the peace within their presence or view");
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 479.110 (2000) (of "any person who commits an offense in [the officer's] presence");
Mont. Code Ann. § 46-6—311(1) (1997) (if "the officer has probable cause to believe that the person is committing an offense");
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-404.02(2)(d) (1995) (when the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed a misdemeanor in his presence);
Nev. Rev. Stat. § 171.172 (1997) (in fresh pursuit of a person who commits "any criminal offense" in the presence of the officer);
N. H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 614:7 (Supp. 2000) (in fresh pursuit of any person who has committed "any criminal offense" in the presence of the officer); § 594:10(I)(a) (upon probable
N. J. Stat. Ann. § 53:2-1 (West Supp. 2000) ("for violations of the law committed in [the officers'] presence");
N. M. Stat. Ann. § 3-13-2(A)(4)(d) (1999) ("any person in the act of violating the laws of the state or the ordinances of the municipality"); § 30-16-16(B) (1994) (for falsely obtaining services or accommodations); § 30-16-23 (of any person officer has probable cause to believe has committed the crime of shoplifting);
N. Y. Crim. Proc. Law §§ 140.10(1)(a) and (2) (McKinney Supp. 2001) (when officer has probable cause to believe any offense has been committed in his presence and probable cause to believe person to be arrested committed the offense);
N. C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-401(b) (1999) (where an officer has probable cause to believe the person has committed "a criminal offense" in the officer's presence and for misdemeanors out of the officers presence in certain circumstances);
N. D. Cent. Code § 29-06-15(1)(a) (Supp. 1999) ("[f]or a public offense, committed or attempted in the officer's presence");
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2935.03 (1997 and Supp. 2000) (of a person "found violating . . . a law of this state, an ordinance of a municipal corporation, or a resolution of a township");
but see § 2935.26 (1997) (providing that notwithstanding any other provision of the Revised Code, when a law enforcement officer is otherwise authorized to arrest a person for the commission of a minor misdemeanor, the officer shall not arrest the person, but shall issue a citation, except in specified circumstances);
Okla. Stat., Tit. 22, § 196(1) (Supp. 2001) ("[f]or a public offense, committed or attempted in [the officer's] presence");
Ore. Rev. Stat. § 133.310(1) (1997) (upon probable cause for any felony, Class A misdemeanor, or any other offense in the
Pa. Stat. Ann., Tit. 71, § 252(a) (Purdon 1990) ("for all violations of the law, including laws regulating the use of the highways, which they may witness");
R. I. Gen. Laws § 12-7—3 (2000) (for misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors where "[t]he officer has reasonable grounds to believe that [the] person cannot be arrested later, or [m]ay cause injury to himself or herself or others or loss or damage to property unless immediately arrested");
S. C. Code Ann. § 17-13-30 (1985) (of persons who, in the presence of the officer, "violate any of the criminal laws of this State if such arrest be made at the time of such violation of law or immediately thereafter");
S. D. Codified Laws § 23A-3-2 (1998) ("[f]or a public offense, other than a petty offense, committed or attempted in [the officer's] presence");
Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-7—103(a)(1) (Supp. 2000) ("[f]or a public offense committed or a breach of the peace threatened in the officer's presence"); see also § 40-7—118(b)(1) (1997) (officer who has arrested a person for the commission of a misdemeanor should generally issue a citation to such arrested person to appear in court in lieu of the continued custody and the taking of the arrested person before a magistrate);
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann., Art. 14.01 (Vernon 1977) ("for any offense committed in his presence or within his view");
Utah Code Ann. § 10-3—915 (1999) (for "any offense directly prohibited by the laws of this state or by ordinance"); § 77— 7-2 (for any public offense committed in presence of officer);
Vt. Rule Crim. Proc. 3(a) (2000) (where officer has probable cause to believe that "a crime" is committed in his presence);
see also Rule 3(c) (law enforcement officer acting without warrant who is authorized to arrest a person for a misdemeanor should generally issue a citation to appear before a judicial officer in lieu of arrest);
Wash. Rev. Code § 10.31.100 (Supp. 2001), as amended by 2000 Wash. Laws 119, § 4 (for misdemeanors committed in the presence of the officer);
W. Va. Code § 62-10-9 (2000) ("for all violations of any of the criminal laws of the United States, or of this state, when committed in [an officer's] presence");
Wis. Stat. § 968.07(1)(d) (1998) (when "[t]here are reasonable grounds to believe that the person is committing or has committed a crime"); and
Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-2—102(b)(i) (1999) (when "[a]ny criminal offense" is committed "in the officer's presence").
Justice O'Connor, with whom Justice Stevens, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Breyer join, dissenting.
The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right to be free from "unreasonable searches and seizures." The Court recognizes that the arrest of Gail Atwater was a "pointless indignity" that served no discernible state interest, ante, at 347, and yet holds that her arrest was constitutionally permissible. Because the Court's position is inconsistent with the explicit guarantee of the Fourth Amendment, I dissent.
A full custodial arrest, such as the one to which Ms. Atwater was subjected, is the quintessential seizure. See Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 585 (1980). When a full custodial arrest is effected without a warrant, the plain language of the Fourth Amendment requires that the arrest be reasonable. See ibid. It is beyond cavil that "[t]he touchstone of our analysis under the Fourth Amendment is always `the reasonableness in all the circumstances of the particular governmental invasion of a citizen's personal security.' " Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 108-109 (1977) (per curiam) (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 19
We have "often looked to the common law in evaluating the reasonableness, for Fourth Amendment purposes, of police activity." Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 13 (1985). But history is just one of the tools we use in conducting the reasonableness inquiry. See id., at 13-19; see also Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 927, 929 (1995); Wyoming v. Houghton, 526 U.S. 295, 307 (1999) (Breyer, J., concurring). And when history is inconclusive, as the majority amply demonstrates it is in this case, see ante, at 326-345, we will "evaluate the search or seizure under traditional standards of reasonableness by assessing, on the one hand, the degree to which it intrudes upon an individual's privacy and, on the other, the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests." Wyoming v. Houghton, supra, at 300. See also, e. g., Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives' Assn., 489 U.S. 602, 619 (1989); Tennessee v. Garner, supra, at 8; Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 654 (1979); Pennsylvania v. Mimms, supra, at 109. In other words, in determining reasonableness, "[e]ach case is to be decided on its own facts and circumstances." Go-Bart Importing Co. v. United States, 282 U.S. 344, 357 (1931).
The majority gives a brief nod to this bedrock principle of our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, and even acknowledges that "Atwater's claim to live free of pointless indignity and confinement clearly outweighs anything the City can raise against it specific to her case." Ante, at 347. But instead of remedying this imbalance, the majority allows itself to be swayed by the worry that "every discretionary judgment in the field [will] be converted into an occasion for constitutional review." Ibid. It therefore mints a new rule that "[i]f an officer has probable cause to believe that an individual
As the majority tacitly acknowledges, we have never considered the precise question presented here, namely, the constitutionality of a warrantless arrest for an offense punishable only by fine. Cf. ibid. Indeed, on the rare occasions that Members of this Court have contemplated such an arrest, they have indicated disapproval. See, e. g., Gustafson v. Florida, 414 U.S. 260, 266-267 (1973) (Stewart, J., concurring) ("[A] persuasive claim might have been made . . . that the custodial arrest of the petitioner for a minor traffic offense violated his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. But no such claim has been made"); United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 238, n. 2 (1973) (Powell, J., concurring) (the validity of a custodial arrest for a minor traffic offense is not "self-evident").
To be sure, we have held that the existence of probable cause is a necessary condition for an arrest. See Dunaway v. New York, 442 U.S. 200, 213-214 (1979). And in the case of felonies punishable by a term of imprisonment, we have held that the existence of probable cause is also a sufficient condition for an arrest. See United States v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411, 416-417 (1976). In Watson, however, there was a clear and consistently applied common law rule permitting warrantless felony arrests. See id., at 417-422. Accordingly, our inquiry ended there and we had no need to assess the reasonableness of such arrests by weighing individual liberty interests against state interests. Cf. Wyoming v. Houghton, supra, at 299-300; Tennessee v. Garner, supra, at 26 (O'Connor, J., dissenting) (criticizing majority for disregarding undisputed common law rule).
Here, however, we have no such luxury. The Court's thorough exegesis makes it abundantly clear that warrantless
Our decision in Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996), is not to the contrary. The specific question presented there was whether, in evaluating the Fourth Amendment reasonableness of a traffic stop, the subjective intent of the police officer is a relevant consideration. Id., at 808, 814. We held that it is not, and stated that "[t]he making of a traffic stop . . . is governed by the usual rule that probable cause to believe the law has been broken `outbalances' private interest in avoiding police contact." Id., at 818.
We of course did not have occasion in Whren to consider the constitutional preconditions for warrantless arrests for fine-only offenses. Nor should our words be taken beyond their context. There are significant qualitative differences between a traffic stop and a full custodial arrest. While both are seizures that fall within the ambit of the Fourth Amendment, the latter entails a much greater intrusion on an individual's liberty and privacy interests. As we have said, "[a] motorist's expectations, when he sees a policeman's light flashing behind him, are that he will be obliged to spend
A custodial arrest exacts an obvious toll on an individual's liberty and privacy, even when the period of custody is relatively brief. The arrestee is subject to a full search of her person and confiscation of her possessions. United States v. Robinson, supra. If the arrestee is the occupant of a car, the entire passenger compartment of the car, including packages therein, is subject to search as well. See New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454 (1981). The arrestee may be detained for up to 48 hours without having a magistrate determine whether there in fact was probable cause for the arrest. See County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991). Because people arrested for all types of violent and nonviolent offenses may be housed together awaiting such review, this detention period is potentially dangerous. Rosazza & Cook, Jail Intake: Managing A Critical Function—Part One: Resources, 13 American Jails 35 (Mar./Apr. 1999). And once the period of custody is over, the fact of the arrest is a permanent
We have said that "the penalty that may attach to any particular offense seems to provide the clearest and most consistent indication of the State's interest in arresting individuals suspected of committing that offense." Welsh v. Wisconsin, 466 U.S. 740, 754, n. 14 (1984). If the State has decided that a fine, and not imprisonment, is the appropriate punishment for an offense, the State's interest in taking a person suspected of committing that offense into custody is surely limited, at best. This is not to say that the State will never have such an interest. A full custodial arrest may on occasion vindicate legitimate state interests, even if the crime is punishable only by fine. Arrest is the surest way to abate criminal conduct. It may also allow the police to verify the offender's identity and, if the offender poses a flight risk, to ensure her appearance at trial. But when such considerations are not present, a citation or summons may serve the State's remaining law enforcement interests every bit as effectively as an arrest. Cf. Lodging for State of Texas et al. as Amici Curiae (Texas Department of Public Safety, Student Handout, Traffic Law Enforcement 1 (1999)) ("Citations. . . . Definition—a means of getting violators to court without physical arrest. A citation should be used when it will serve this purpose except when by issuing a citation and releasing the violator, the safety of the public and/or the violator might be imperiled as in the case of D. W. I.").
Because a full custodial arrest is such a severe intrusion on an individual's liberty, its reasonableness hinges on "the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests." Wyoming v. Houghton, 526 U. S., at 300. In light of the availability of citations to promote a State's interests when a fine-only offense has been committed, I cannot concur in a rule which deems a full custodial arrest to be reasonable in every circumstance. Giving police
The majority insists that a bright-line rule focused on probable cause is necessary to vindicate the State's interest in easily administrable law enforcement rules. See ante, at 347-351. Probable cause itself, however, is not a model of precision. "The quantum of information which constitutes probable cause—evidence which would `warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief' that a [crime] has been committed—must be measured by the facts of the particular case." Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 479 (1963) (citation omitted). The rule I propose—which merely requires a legitimate reason for the decision to escalate the seizure into a full custodial arrest—thus does not undermine an otherwise "clear and simple" rule. Cf. ante, at 347.
While clarity is certainly a value worthy of consideration in our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, it by no means trumps the values of liberty and privacy at the heart of the Amendment's protections. What the Terry rule lacks in precision it makes up for in fidelity to the Fourth Amendment's command of reasonableness and sensitivity to the competing values protected by that Amendment. Over the past 30 years, it appears that the Terry rule has been workable and easily applied by officers on the street.
At bottom, the majority offers two related reasons why a bright-line rule is necessary: the fear that officers who arrest for fine-only offenses will be subject to "personal [42 U. S. C.]
Qualified immunity was created to shield government officials from civil liability for the performance of discretionary functions so long as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known. See Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). This doctrine is "the best attainable accommodation of competing values," namely, the obligation to enforce constitutional guarantees and the need to protect officials who are required to exercise their discretion. Id., at 814.
In Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635 (1987), we made clear that the standard of reasonableness for a search or seizure under the Fourth Amendment is distinct from the standard of reasonableness for qualified immunity purposes. Id., at 641. If a law enforcement officer "reasonably but mistakenly conclude[s]" that the constitutional predicate for a search or seizure is present, he "should not be held personally liable." Ibid.
This doctrine thus allays any concerns about liability or disincentives to arrest. If, for example, an officer reasonably thinks that a suspect poses a flight risk or might be a danger to the community if released, cf. ante, at 351, he may arrest without fear of the legal consequences. Similarly, if an officer reasonably concludes that a suspect may possess more than four ounces of marijuana and thus might be guilty of a felony, cf. ante, at 348-349, and n. 19, 351, the officer will be insulated from liability for arresting the suspect even if the initial assessment turns out to be factually incorrect. As we have said, "officials will not be liable for mere mistakes in judgment." Butz v. Economou, 438 U.S. 478, 507
The record in this case makes it abundantly clear that Ms. Atwater's arrest was constitutionally unreasonable. Atwater readily admits—as she did when Officer Turek pulled her over—that she violated Texas' seatbelt law. Brief for Petitioners 2-3; Record 381, 384. While Turek was justified in stopping Atwater, see Whren v. United States, 517 U. S., at 819, neither law nor reason supports his decision to arrest her instead of simply giving her a citation. The officer's actions cannot sensibly be viewed as a permissible means of balancing Atwater's Fourth Amendment interests with the State's own legitimate interests.
There is no question that Officer Turek's actions severely infringed Atwater's liberty and privacy. Turek was loud and accusatory from the moment he approached Atwater's car. Atwater's young children were terrified and hysterical. Yet when Atwater asked Turek to lower his voice because he was scaring the children, he responded by jabbing his finger in Atwater's face and saying, "You're going to jail." Record 382, 384. Having made the decision to arrest, Turek did not inform Atwater of her right to remain silent. Id., at 390, 704. He instead asked for her license and insurance information. Id., at 382. But cf. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).
Atwater asked if she could at least take her children to a friend's house down the street before going to the police station. Record 384. But Turek—who had just castigated Atwater for not caring for her children—refused and said he would take the children into custody as well. Id., at 384, 427, 704-705. Only the intervention of neighborhood
With the children gone, Officer Turek handcuffed Ms. Atwater with her hands behind her back, placed her in the police car, and drove her to the police station. Id., at 386-387. Ironically, Turek did not secure Atwater in a seatbelt for the drive. Id., at 386. At the station, Atwater was forced to remove her shoes, relinquish her possessions, and wait in a holding cell for about an hour. Id., at 387, 706. A judge finally informed Atwater of her rights and the charges against her, and released her when she posted bond. Id., at 387-388, 706. Atwater returned to the scene of the arrest, only to find that her car had been towed. Id., at 389.
Ms. Atwater ultimately pleaded no contest to violating the seatbelt law and was fined $50. Id., at 403. Even though that fine was the maximum penalty for her crime, Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 545.413(d) (1999), and even though Officer Turek has never articulated any justification for his actions, the city contends that arresting Atwater was constitutionally reasonable because it advanced two legitimate interests: "the enforcement of child safety laws and encouraging [Atwater] to appear for trial." Brief for Respondents 15.
It is difficult to see how arresting Atwater served either of these goals any more effectively than the issuance of a citation. With respect to the goal of law enforcement generally, Atwater did not pose a great danger to the community. She had been driving very slowly—approximately 15 miles per hour—in broad daylight on a residential street that had no other traffic. Record 380. Nor was she a repeat offender; until that day, she had received one traffic citation in her life—a ticket, more than 10 years earlier, for failure to signal a lane change. Id., at 378. Although Officer Turek had stopped Atwater approximately three months earlier because he thought that Atwater's son was not wearing a seatbelt, id., at 420, Turek had been mistaken, id., at 379, 703.
With respect to the related goal of child welfare, the decision to arrest Atwater was nothing short of counterproductive. Atwater's children witnessed Officer Turek yell at their mother and threaten to take them all into custody. Ultimately, they were forced to leave her behind with Turek, knowing that she was being taken to jail. Understandably, the 3-year-old boy was "very, very, very traumatized." Id., at 393. After the incident, he had to see a child psychologist regularly, who reported that the boy "felt very guilty that he couldn't stop this horrible thing . . . he was powerless to help his mother or sister." Id., at 396. Both of Atwater's children are now terrified at the sight of any police car. Id., at 393, 395. According to Atwater, the arrest "just never leaves us. It's a conversation we have every other day, once a week, and it's—it raises its head constantly in our lives." Id., at 395.
Citing Atwater surely would have served the children's interests well. It would have taught Atwater to ensure that her children were buckled up in the future. It also would have taught the children an important lesson in accepting responsibility and obeying the law. Arresting Atwater, though, taught the children an entirely different lesson: that "the bad person could just as easily be the policeman as it could be the most horrible person they could imagine." Ibid.
Respondents also contend that the arrest was necessary to ensure Atwater's appearance in court. Atwater, however, was far from a flight risk. A 16-year resident of Lago Vista, population 2,486, Atwater was not likely to abscond. See Record 376; Texas State Data Center, 1997 Total Population Estimates for Texas Places 15 (Sept. 1998). Although she
The city's justifications fall far short of rationalizing the extraordinary intrusion on Gail Atwater and her children. Measuring "the degree to which [Atwater's custodial arrest was] needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests," against "the degree to which it intrud[ed] upon [her] privacy," Wyoming v. Houghton, 526 U. S., at 300, it can hardly be doubted that Turek's actions were disproportionate to Atwater's crime. The majority's assessment that "Atwater's claim to live free of pointless indignity and confinement clearly outweighs anything the City can raise against it specific to her case," ante, at 347, is quite correct. In my view, the Fourth Amendment inquiry ends there.
The Court's error, however, does not merely affect the disposition of this case. The per se rule that the Court creates has potentially serious consequences for the everyday lives of Americans. A broad range of conduct falls into the category of fine-only misdemeanors. In Texas alone, for example, disobeying any sort of traffic warning sign is a misdemeanor punishable only by fine, see Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 472.022 (1999 and Supp. 2000-2001), as is failing to pay a highway toll, see § 284.070, and driving with expired license plates, see § 502.407. Nor are fine-only crimes limited to the traffic context. In several States, for example, littering is a criminal offense punishable only by fine. See, e. g., Cal. Penal Code Ann. § 374.7 (West 1999); Ga. Code Ann. § 16— 7-43 (1996); Iowa Code §§ 321.369, 805.8(2)(af) (Supp. 2001).
To be sure, such laws are valid and wise exercises of the States' power to protect the public health and welfare. My concern lies not with the decision to enact or enforce these
Such unbounded discretion carries with it grave potential for abuse. The majority takes comfort in the lack of evidence of "an epidemic of unnecessary minor-offense arrests." Ante, at 353, and n. 25. But the relatively small number of published cases dealing with such arrests proves little and should provide little solace. Indeed, as the recent debate over racial profiling demonstrates all too clearly, a relatively minor traffic infraction may often serve as an excuse for stopping and harassing an individual. After today, the arsenal available to any officer extends to a full arrest and the searches permissible concomitant to that arrest. An officer's subjective motivations for making a traffic stop are not relevant considerations in determining the reasonableness of the stop. See Whren v. United States, supra, at 813. But it is precisely because these motivations are beyond our purview that we must vigilantly ensure that officers' poststop actions—which are properly within our reach—comport with the Fourth Amendment's guarantee of reasonableness.
* * *
The Court neglects the Fourth Amendment's express command in the name of administrative ease. In so doing, it cloaks the pointless indignity that Gail Atwater suffered with the mantle of reasonableness. I respectfully dissent.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the United States by Solicitor General Waxman, Assistant Attorney General Robinson, Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben, and Patricia A. Millett; for the National League of Cities et al. by Richard Ruda and James I. Crowley; and for the Texas Police Chiefs Association by James McLaughlin, Jr.
Even when used to describe common-law arrest authority, the term's precise import is not altogether clear. See J. Turner, Kenny's Outlines of Criminal Law § 695, p. 537 (17th ed. 1958) ("Strangely enough what constitutes a `breach of the peace' has not been authoritatively laid down"); G. Williams, Arrest for Breach of the Peace, 1954 Crim. L. Rev. 578, 578-579 ("The expression `breach of the peace' seems clearer than it is and there is a surprising lack of authoritative definition of what one would suppose to be a fundamental concept in criminal law"); Wilgus, supra, at 573 ("What constitutes a breach of peace is not entirely certain"). More often than not, when used in reference to common-law arrest power, the term seemed to connote an element of violence. See, e. g., M. Dalton, Country Justice, ch. 3, p. 9 (1727) ("The Breach of th[e] Peace seemeth to be any injurious Force or Violence moved against the Person of another, his Goods, Lands, or other Possessions, whether by threatening words, or by furious Gesture, or Force of the Body, or any other Force used in terrorem "). On occasion, however, common-law commentators included in their descriptions of breaches of the peace offenses that do not necessarily involve violence or a threat thereof. See M. Hale, A Methodical Summary of the Principal Matters Relating to the Pleas of the Crown *134 (7th ed. 1773) ("Barretries"); 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 149 (1769) (hereinafter Blackstone) ("[s]preading false news"). For purposes of this case, it is unnecessary to reach a definitive resolution of the uncertainty. As stated in the text, we will assume that as used in the context of common-law arrest, the phrase "breach of the peace" was understood narrowly, as entailing at least a threat of violence.