- staisilLv 78 years agoFavorite Answer
Brinegar, a resident of Vinita, Oklahoma, had been arrested five months prior by an officer Malsed for illegally transporting liquor in Oklahoma. Malsed had also seen him loading liquor into a vehicle in Joplin, Missouri, on at least two occasions during the previous six months, and knew him to have a reputation for hauling liquor. In this case, Brinegar drove past Malsed who was parked near a bridge five miles west of the Oklahoma Missouri border. Malsed and his partner, Creehan, both later testified that Brinegar's Ford coupe appeared to be "heavily loaded". Brinegar sped up when he saw Malsed and Creehan and the officers gave chase. After about a mile, the officers forced Brinegar off the road.
When Malsed and Creehan exited their car, Malsed asked Brinegar how much liquor he had in the car. Brinegar replied "Not too much." or "Not so much." After further questioning, Brinegar admitted to having twelve cases in his vehicle. Malsed later testified that one case was visible from outside the car on the front passenger seat. Twelve more cases were found under and behind the front seat.
Prior to trial, Brinegar motioned to suppress the evidence as an unlawful search and seizure. The motion was denied, and was again denied during his trial. Brinegar was convicted of importing intoxicating liquor into Oklahoma from Missouri in violation of a federal law forbidding such importation contrary to the laws of a state. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Justice Rutledge delivered the opinion of the Court, affirming the lower Court's decisions. In holding that the standards for conviction and probable cause are necessarily different, Justice Rutledge wrote about the trial court's rulings,"The court's rulings, one admitting, the other excluding the identical testimony, were neither inconsistent nor improper. They illustrate the difference in standards and latitude allowed in passing upon the distinct issues of probable cause and guilt." Justice Rutledge further held that, "Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within the officers' knowledge, and of which they have reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient in themselves to warrant a belief by a man of reasonable caution that a crime is being committed."
- ArbieLv 68 years ago
338 U.S. 160 (1949), reh.den. The syllabus from the Court:
Petitioner was convicted in a federal district court for a violation of the Liquor Enforcement Act of 1936, on charges of transporting intoxicating liquor into Oklahoma contrary to the laws of that State. He challenged the validity of his conviction because of the use in evidence against him of liquor seized in a search of his automobile without a warrant and allegedly in violation of the Fourth Amendment. At the hearing on petitioner's motion to suppress this evidence, it appeared that one of the federal agents who made the search and seizure had arrested petitioner five months previously for illegally transporting liquor; that he had twice seen petitioner loading liquor into a car or truck in Missouri, where the sale of liquor was legal, and that he knew petitioner had a reputation for hauling liquor. This officer, accompanied by another, recognized petitioner and his car, which appeared to be heavily loaded, going west in Oklahoma not far from the Missouri line. They gave chase, overtook petitioner, and forced his car to the side of the road. Upon interrogation, petitioner admitted that he had twelve cases of liquor in his car, whereupon the officers searched the car, seized the liquor and arrested petitioner.
1. The facts taking place before petitioner made the incriminating statements were sufficient to show probable cause for the search, and the evidence seized was admissible against petitioner at the trial. Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, followed. Pp. 165-171.
2. The officer's knowledge that petitioner was engaging in illicit liquor-running was not based wholly or largely on surmise or hearsay; the facts derived from his personal observation were sufficient in themselves, without the hearsay concerning general reputation, to sustain his conclusion concerning the illegal character of petitioner's operations. P. 172.
3. It was not improper to admit as evidence on the issue of probable cause the fact that the officer had arrested the petitioner several months before for illegal transportation of liquor, although the identical evidence was properly excluded at the trial on the issue of guilt. Pp. 172-174. [p161]
4. Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within the officers' knowledge, and of which they have reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient in themselves to warrant a belief by a man of reasonable caution that a crime is being committed. Pp. 175-176.
165 F.2d 512, affirmed.