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Giordenello v. United States, 357 U.S. 480 (1958)

Giordenello v. United States

No. 549

Argued May 21, 1958

Decided June 30, 1958

357 U.S. 480


With no indictment and on his own complaint, a federal officer obtained a warrant for petitioner's arrest, but obtained no search warrant. His complaint was not based on his personal knowledge, did not indicate the source of his belief that petitioner had committed a crime, and set forth no other sufficient basis for a finding of probable cause. With this warrant, he arrested petitioner and seized narcotics in his possession. The arrest and seizure were not challenged at petitioner's arraignment, but a motion to suppress the use of the narcotics in evidence was made and denied before his trial. They were admitted in evidence at his trial in a federal district court, and he was convicted.

Held: The arrest and seizure were illegal, the narcotics should not have been admitted in evidence, and petitioner's conviction must be set aside. Pp. 357 U. S. 481-488.

1. By waiving preliminary examination before the Commissioner, petitioner did not surrender his right to contest in court the validity of the warrant on the grounds here asserted. Pp. 357 U. S. 483-484.

2. Under Rules 3 and 4 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, read in the light of the Fourth Amendment, probable cause was not shown by the complaint, and the warrant for arrest was issued illegally. Pp. 357 U. S. 484-487.

3. Having relied entirely in the courts below on the validity of the warrant, the Government cannot contend in this Court that the arrest was justified apart from the warrant, because the arresting officer had probable cause to believe that petitioner had committed a felony; nor should the case be sent back to the District Court for a special hearing on the issue of probable cause. Pp. 487-488.

241 F.2d 575 reversed.

Page 357 U. S. 481

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