Maryland v. Buie Case Brief

Why is the case important?

After arresting the Respondent, Buie (Respondent), a police officer enter the Respondent’s basement to perform a protective sweep. While performing the protective sweep, the officer discovered evidence that aided in the Respondent’s conviction.

Facts of the case

“On February 3, 1986, two men robbed a Godfather’s Pizza in Prince George’s County, Maryland. One of the men was wearing a red running suit. Later that day, the police obtained warrants for the arrest of Jerome Edward Buie and Lloyd Allen and put Buie’s house under surveillance. On February 5, the police arrested Buie in his house. Police found him hiding in the basement. Once Buie emerged and was handcuffed, an officer went down to determine if there was anyone else hiding. While in the basement, the officer saw a red running suit in plain view and seized it as evidence.The trial court denied Buie’s motion to suppress the running suit evidence, and he was convicted. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland affirmed the trial court’s denial of the motion. The Court of Appeals of Maryland reversed.”


Is probable cause that a serious danger exists required before police perform a protective sweep after arresting a person in his home?


No. Only a reasonable belief (reasonable suspicion) that a serious danger exists is required before police perform a protective sweep after arresting a person in his home.


The Supreme Court of the United States vacated the judgment of the Court of Appeals of Maryland and remanded the case to that court for further proceedings. The Court ruled that arresting officers were permitted to take reasonable steps to ensure their safety after, and during, the arrest, and that interest was sufficient to outweigh the possible intrusion on an individual’s Fourth Amendment interests. In Buie’s case, the Court found that no search warrant was required and that officers could, as a precautionary matter and without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, look in spaces immediately adjoining the place of arrest from which an attack could be immediately launched. Beyond that, the Court held that there had to be articulable facts which, taken together with the rational inferences from those facts, would warrant a reasonably prudent officer in believing that the area to be swept harbored an individual posing a danger.

  • Case Brief: 1990
  • Petitioner: Maryland
  • Respondent: Jerome Edward Buie
  • Decided by: Rehnquist Court

Citation: 494 US 325 (1990)
Argued: Dec 4, 1989
Decided: Feb 28, 1990
Granted Jun 5, 1989