Florida v. Royer Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Detectives stopped and questioned respondent Mark Royer after figuring out he fit the profile of a person transporting illegal drugs, and then asked him to accompany them to a small room about 40 feet away. Fifteen minutes later, he consented to search of his bags.

Facts of the case

Question

Is the permissible extent under the Fourth Amendment of a temporary Terry stop exceeded when a police officer asks a person suspected of criminal activity to go into a small closed room without telling them they may leave and they end up there for fifteen minutes?
Can a search subsequent to an invalid detention be validly consented to under the Fourth Amendment?

Answer

Affirm the judgment of the lower court that the detention and search was invalid.
Police may not carry out a full search of a person merely but appropriately suspected of criminal activity, nor may they seek to verify their suspicions by means approaching that of a full-fledged arrest. This detention was a more serious intrusion on his personal liberty than that that is allowable based on mere reasonable suspicion as the least intrusive investigatory means should be used in such stops.

Conclusion

The United States Supreme Court held that Royer’s consent was involuntary because Royer was being illegally detained when he consented to the search of his luggage. When the officers identified themselves as narcotics agents, told Royer he was suspected of transporting narcotics, and asked him to accompany them to the police room while retaining his ticket and driver’s license, Royer’s was effectively seized for purposes of the Fourth Amendment .

  • Case Brief: 1983
  • Petitioner: Florida
  • Respondent: Royer
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 460 US 491 (1983)
Argued: Oct 12, 1982
Decided: Mar 23, 1983