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JOHNSON V. UNITED STATES, 333 U. S. 10 (1948)

U.S. Supreme Court

Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10 (1948)

Johnson v. United States

No. 329

Argued December 18, 1947

Decided February 2, 1948

333 U.S. 10


1. Where officers detected the odor of burning opium emanating from a hotel room, entered without a search warrant and without knowing who was there, arrested the only occupant, searched the room and found opium and smoking apparatus, the search violated the Fourth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, and a conviction for a violation of the federal narcotic laws based on the evidence based on the evidence thus obtained cannot be sustained. Pp. 333 U. S. 11-17.

2. As a general rule, the question when the right of privacy must reasonably yield to the right of search must be decided by a judicial officer, not by a policeman or government enforcement agent. Pp. 333 U. S. 13-14.

3. There were no exceptional circumstances in this case sufficient to justify the failure of the officer to obtain a search warrant. Pp. 333 U. S. 14-15.

Page 333 U. S. 11

4. It being conceded that the officer did not have probable cause to arrest petitioner until he entered the room and found her to be the sole occupant, the search cannot be sustained as being incident to a valid arrest. Pp. 333 U. S. 15-16.

5. The Government cannot at the same time justify an arrest by a search and justify the search by the arrest. Pp. 333 U. S. 16-19.

6. An officer gaining access to private living quarters under color of his office and of the law must then have some valid basis in law for the intrusion. P. 333 U. S. 17.

162 F.2d 562, reversed.

Petitioner was convicted in a Federal District Court on evidence obtained by a search made without a warrant. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. 162 F.2d 562. This Court granted certiorari. 332 U.S. 807. Reversed, p. 333 U. S. 17.

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