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Police Detention 1 Mile From Site of Search May Go Too Far

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By Andrew Lu on February 21, 2013 1:23 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police need a valid reason if they want to detain a criminal suspect far away from the site of a search.

In a case out of New York, the High Court ruled that police needed a better reason than making it safer and easier to conduct a search if they wanted to hold a man 1 mile away from his home as officers searched the man's home.

Generally, the Court ruled that police may detain people in connection with executing a search warrant. But cops will need another valid reason if they want to detain a suspect far from the place being searched, writes Reuters.

The detention in question involved a Long Island man, Chunon Bailey. Police had received a tip from a confidential informant that Bailey was dealing drugs and had a firearm at his home.

Police tailed Bailey in his car for about five minutes and eventually pulled him over about a mile away from his home, reports Reuters. After officers stopped Bailey, they performed a routine patdown search that turned up Bailey's house keys.

The police then detained Bailey while they searched his home. The home search eventually turned up the gun and drugs, which were used against Bailey at a state criminal trial. Bailey was found guilty of firearms and drug possession charges.

The Supreme Court's decision this week did not overturn the New York state court decision. Instead, the Supreme Court simply kicked the case back down to the state level to determine if the patdown search of Bailey was enough to justify Bailey's detention one mile away from his house.

As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority: "Once an occupant is beyond the immediate vicinity of the premises to be searched, the search-related law enforcement interests are diminished and the intrusiveness ofthe detention is more severe."

Because of this ruling, it appears that police will have to justify their detention of a suspect who's found far from the property being searched, even if the suspect is the property's owner or occupant.

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