Law School Case Brief
United States v. Salvucci - 448 U.S. 83, 100 S. Ct. 2547 (1980)
Defendants charged with crimes of possession may only claim the benefits of the exclusionary rule if their own Fourth Amendment rights have in fact been violated. The automatic standing rule of Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257 (1960), is overruled.
On May 15, 1978, defendants John M. Salvucci, Jr. and Joseph G. Zackular were indicted by a federal grand jury and charged in 12 counts with unlawful possession of checks stolen from the mail, a violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 1708. The checks involved had been seized from an apartment rented by Zackular's wife. The seizure was made by state police officers acting pursuant to a search warrant. At trial in federal district court, defendants filed a motion to suppress the seized checks. Over the Government's objection that defendants lacked standing to challenge the search and seizure, the district court granted the motion on the ground that the affidavit supporting the search warrant failed to establish the requisite probable cause for the issuance of the warrant. On the Government's appeal, the appellate court affirmed. The Government was granted a writ of certiorari.
Were Salvucci and Zackular entitled to assert "automatic standing" to object to the search of the apartment rented by Zackular's wife and the seizure of mail found in the apartment?
The Supreme Court of the United States reversed and remanded the appellate court's judgment. The Court expressly overruled Jones v. United States and held that defendants in a criminal prosecution who were charged with crimes of possession did not have "automatic standing" to challenge the legality of the search that produced the evidence against them without regard to whether they had an expectation of privacy in the premises searched. According to the Court, only defendants whose Fourth Amendment rights were violated could benefit from the exclusionary rule. The Court further held that a prosecutor could, with legal consistency and legitimacy, assert that a defendant charged with possession of a seized item did not have a privacy interest violated in the course of the search and seizure, and that an illegal search only violated the rights of those with a legitimate expectation of privacy in the invaded place. The Court remanded the matter so as to give Salvucci and Zackular an opportunity to demonstrate, if possible, that their own Fourth Amendment rights were violated.
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