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Schmerber v. Cal.

Supreme Court of the United States

April 25, 1966, Argued ; June 20, 1966, Decided

No. 658

Case Summary

Procedural Posture

Certiorari was granted to review a decision of the Appellate Department of the California Superior Court, County of Los Angeles, which affirmed petitioner's conviction of driving an automobile while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.

Overview

Petitioner contended that the drawing of his blood for an alcohol analysis test without his consent denied him due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment and violated his privilege against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, his right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment, and his right not to be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The state court affirmed the conviction and petitioner sought review. The Court upheld petitioner's conviction. It held that the privilege against self-incrimination protected an accused only from being compelled to testify against himself, or to otherwise provide the State with evidence of a testimonial or communicative nature, and that the withdrawal of blood and use of the analysis did not involve compulsion to these ends. The Court also held that the record showed no violation of petitioner's right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, because the arresting officer could have reasonably concluded that the delay in obtaining a warrant could result in the destruction or disappearance of evidence and because the test was conducted in a reasonable manner.

Outcome

The Court affirmed the state court's judgment of conviction.

LexisNexis® Headnotes

 

 

Criminal Law & Procedure > ... > Defendant's Rights > Right to Remain Silent > Communicative & Testimonial Information

Evidence > ... > Scientific Evidence > Bodily Evidence > Blood & Bodily Fluids

Constitutional Law > ... > Fundamental Rights > Procedural Due Process > Self-Incrimination Privilege

Evidence > Privileges > Self-Incrimination Privilege > General Overview

HN1  Right to Remain Silent, Communicative & Testimonial Information

U.S. Const. amend. XIV secures against state invasion the same privilege that U.S. Const. amend. V guarantees against federal infringement - the right of a person to remain silent unless he chooses to speak in the unfettered exercise of his own will, and to suffer no penalty for such silence. The privilege protects an accused only from being compelled to testify against himself, or otherwise provide the State with evidence of a testimonial or communicative nature.

 

Constitutional Law > ... > Fundamental Rights > Procedural Due Process > Self-Incrimination Privilege

Criminal Law & Procedure > ... > Defendant's Rights > Right to Remain Silent > Communicative & Testimonial Information

HN2  Procedural Due Process, Self-Incrimination Privilege

The privilege against self-incrimination is a bar against compelling communications or testimony, but compulsion which makes a suspect or accused the source of real or physical evidence does not violate it.

 

Criminal Law & Procedure > ... > Defendant's Rights > Right to Remain Silent > Communicative & Testimonial Information

Evidence > ... > Scientific Evidence > Bodily Evidence > Blood & Bodily Fluids

HN3  Right to Remain Silent, Communicative & Testimonial Information

Where blood test evidence, although it may be an incriminating product of compulsion, is neither testimony nor evidence relating to some communicative act or writing by a defendant, it is not inadmissible on privilege grounds.

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384 U.S. 757 ; 86 S. Ct. 1826 ; 16 L. Ed. 2d 908 ; 1966 U.S. LEXIS 1129 

SCHMERBER v. CALIFORNIA

Prior History:  [1]  CERTIORARI TO THE APPELLATE DEPARTMENT OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES.

Disposition: Affirmed.