Rakas v. Illinois

LOCATION:United States District Court for the District of Columbia

DOCKET NO.: 77-5781
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 439 US 128 (1978)
ARGUED: Oct 03, 1978
DECIDED: Dec 05, 1978

Donald B. Mackay – for respondent
G. Joseph Weller – for petitioners

Facts of the case


Media for Rakas v. Illinois

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – October 03, 1978 in Rakas v. Illinois

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – December 05, 1978 in Rakas v. Illinois

Warren E. Burger:

The judgement and opinion of the Court in Rakas against Illinois will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

In this case after receiving a report of a robbery of a closing store in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

The police stopped a suspect a getaway car in which petitioners were passengers.

The police searched the car and found a box of riffle shells in the glove compartment which was locked and a sawed-off riffle under the front passenger seat.

Neither the petitioner is the owner of the automobile and neither has ever asserted that he own the riffle or shells seized.

Before trial, petitioners moved to suppress the riffle and shells on the ground that the search violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment, but the trial court ruled that petitioners lacked standing to object of the search.

The Illinois Appellate Court upheld that ruling and we granted certiorari.

In Jones against the United States, this Court held that a person seeking to challenge the legality of a search is a basis for suppressing evidence must show that he was the victim of the search or seizure.

Today, we reject petitioners’ suggestion that we broaden the rule of standing enunciated in Jones so that any criminal defendant at whom is searched was directed would have standing to contest the legality of that search.

Adoption of petitioners’ so-called “target” theory wouldn’t affect permitted defendant to assert that a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of a third party entitled him to have evidence suppressed at trial.

But we have held time and again that Fourth Amendment rights are personal rights which may not be asserted by vicariously and we reaffirmed that holding today.

Having rejected petitioners’ “target” theory and reaffirmed the principal of the rights assured by the Fourth Amendment are personal rights which may be enforced by exclusion of evidence only at the instance of one’s whose own rights were infringed.

We also decide that the concept of standing discussed in the Jones case is more properly subsumed under substantive Fourth Amendment analysis.

The question of whether one’s Fourth Amendment rights have been infringed is in this situation, not one of standing it all but of what rights the Fourth Amendment confers.

Petitioners here seek to fit their situation with whom the language of Jones that anyone “legitimately on premises” where search occurs may challenge its legality.

But the phrase legitimately on the premises coined in Jones creates too broad a gauge for measurement of Fourth Amendment rights.

The holding in Jones can best be explained, we think, in the light of our later decision in Katz versus United States.

By the fact that Jones had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the premises he was using and therefore could claim the protection of the Fourth Amendment.

Judged by this analysis, we find that petitioners’ claims must fail.

They asserted neither a property nor a possessory interest in the automobile nor an interest in the property seized and the fact that they were legitimately on the premises in the sense that they were in the car with the permission of the owner is not determinative of whether they had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the particular areas of the automobile search.

Here petitioner simply made no showing that they had any such expectation of privacy in the glove compartment or area under the seat of the car in which they were merely passengers.

Since the search did not violate any rights of these petitioners, we affirmed their judgment of conviction.

Mr. Justice Powell while joining the opinion of the Court has filed a separate concurring opinion in which the Chief Justice joins.

Mr. Justice White with whom Mr. Justice Brennan, Mr. Justice Marshall and Mr. Justice Stevens concur has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Rehnquist.