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Rakas v. Illinois

Supreme Court of the United States

October 3, 1978, Argued ; December 5, 1978, Decided

No. 77-5781


 [*129]   [***392]   [**423]  MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

 Petitioners were convicted of armed robbery in the Circuit Court of Kankakee County, Ill., and their convictions were affirmed on appeal. At their trial, the prosecution offered into evidence a sawed-off rifle and rifle shells that had been seized by police during a search of an automobile in which petitioners had been passengers. Neither petitioner is the owner of the automobile and neither has ever asserted that he owned the rifle or shells seized. The Illinois Appellate Court held that petitioners lacked standing to object to the allegedly  [*130]  unlawful search and seizure and denied their motion to suppress the evidence. We granted certiorari in light [****5]  of the obvious importance of the issues raised to the administration of criminal justice, 435 U.S. 922 (1978), and now affirm.

Because we are not here concerned with the issue of probable cause, a brief description of the events leading to the search of the automobile will suffice. A police officer on a routine patrol received a radio call notifying him of a robbery of a clothing store in Bourbonnais, Ill., and describing the getaway car. Shortly thereafter, the officer spotted an automobile which he thought might be the getaway car. After following the car for some time and after the arrival of assistance, he and several other officers stopped the vehicle. The occupants of the automobile, petitioners and two female companions, were ordered out of the car and, after the occupants had left the car, two officers searched the interior of the vehicle. They discovered a box of rifle shells in the glove compartment, which had been locked, and a sawed-off rifle under the front passenger seat. App. 10-11. After discovering the rifle and the shells, the officers took petitioners to the station and placed them under arrest.

  [****6]   Before trial petitioners moved to suppress the rifle and shells seized from the car on the ground that the search violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. They conceded that they did not own the automobile and were simply passengers; the owner of the car had been the driver of the vehicle at the time of the search. Nor did they assert that they owned the rifle  [***393]  or  [**424]  the shells seized. 2 The prosecutor  [*131]  challenged petitioners' standing to object to the lawfulness of the search of the car because neither the car, the shells nor the rifle belonged to them. The trial court agreed that petitioners lacked standing and denied the motion to suppress the evidence.  App. 23-24. In view of this holding, the court did not determine whether there was probable cause for the search and seizure. On appeal after petitioners' conviction, the Appellate Court of Illinois, Third Judicial District, affirmed the trial court's denial of petitioners' motion to suppress because it held that "without a proprietary or other similar interest in an automobile, a mere passenger therein lacks [****7]  standing to challenge the legality of the search of the vehicle."  [*132]  46 Ill. App. 3d 569, 571, 360 N. E. 2d 1252, 1253 (1977). The court stated:

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439 U.S. 128 *; 99 S. Ct. 421 **; 58 L. Ed. 2d 387 ***; 1978 U.S. LEXIS 2452 ****


Subsequent History:  [****1]  Petition For Rehearing Denied January 15, 1979.


Disposition:  46 Ill. App. 3d 569, 360 N. E. 2d 1252, affirmed.


fourth amendment, premises, rights, privacy, searched, passengers, expectation of privacy, apartment, seized, seizure, search and seizure, rifle, time of search, exclusionary rule, cases, petitioners', legitimate expectation of privacy, governmental intrusion, possessory interest, contest, shells, suppress, target, standing to object, purposes, property interest, decisions, legality, invoke, riding

Criminal Law & Procedure, Criminal Offenses, Weapons Offenses, General Overview, Preliminary Proceedings, Pretrial Motions & Procedures, Suppression of Evidence, Civil Procedure, Justiciability, Standing, Personal Stake, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Elements, Fundamental Rights, Search & Seizure, Exclusionary Rule, Exclusionary Rule, Scope of Protection, Burglary & Criminal Trespass, Criminal Trespass, Theft & Related Offenses, Injury in Fact, Evidence, Relevance, Preservation of Relevant Evidence, Exclusion & Preservation by Prosecutors, Expectation of Privacy, Torts, Intentional Torts, Invasion of Privacy, Warrantless Searches, Vehicle Searches