Sibron v. New York


DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)

CITATION: 392 US 40 (1968)
ARGUED: Dec 11, 1967 / Dec 12, 1967
DECIDED: Jun 10, 1968

Facts of the case

Pursuing Nelson Sibron for eight hours, the police officer, Anthony Martinez, observed him speaking with few narcotics addicts, then stopped and interrogated him. After his non-obvious answer, the officer decided to search into his pockets, where he found several packages with heroin. Nelson Sibron was accused of the carrying out of the drug traffic and retained under the arrest. But the convict deemed such investigation as the breach of his constitutional guarantee and therefore such conviction was outlawed.

But the Criminal Court of New York City refused his claim and the defendant brought the appellation. However, the appeal trial confirmed the previous opinion. But the USA Supreme Court granted the certiorari for Sibron v. New York together with Peters v. New York, so-called “stop and frisk” cases. As in the second one, John Peters claimed also his arrest and indictment for the attempt to commit burglary because of finding tools for crime exercising after his investigation by the officer. Therefore, both lawsuits claimed the illegibility of the state legislation regarding the authorization to the police officers to conduct cessation and investigation of suspects as the breach of the Constitutional protection.

After the hearing, the Court underlined that besides the states could to empowered the policemen with the rights to arrest, simultaneously all the investigations and examinations should be conducted in accordance with the constitutional guarantees.

The case study of Sibron v. New York finds the judge's conclusion that the officer had no objective proves from any conversations between Martines and drugs` addicts. Also, the judgement didn`t consider Martinez`s actions as the search for weapons with self-protection purpose as he had no reasons for assumptions of Sibron`s concealment. Regarding the lawsuit of Peters v. New, York judges confirmed the legitimate of the convict`s arrest as he attempted to escape and fought back, that such behavior indicated about the committing of crimes.

Hence, the Supreme Court of the USA upheld different decision in the New York Court cases but proved that any search and seizure should have justifiable grounds but not only suspicions.


Do the broad search powers conferred on New York State police officers under the State's "stop-and-frisk" law violate the Fourth Amendment's search and seizure protections?

Media for Sibron v. New York

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 12, 1967 in Sibron v. New York

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 11, 1967 in Sibron v. New York

Warren E. Burger:

Number 74, I suggest you do that very promptly.

We don't have a long time schedule, it's been two three days so do that quickly.

You may have it typewritten instead of printed if you wish.

Thank you.

Warren E. Burger:

Number 74, John Francis Peters versus New York.

Mr. Friedman.


Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Court, may it please the Court.

This course is before Court today on direct appeal from a judgment of the New York State Court of Appeals which judgment affirm the defendant's conviction for the illegal possession of burglary tools.

On this appeal, the defendant contends that a certain search of this person and the seizure of evidence therefrom constituted an unreasonable search and seizure of this person in violation of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In this case, as in its sub-line case, the validity of a state statute, namely Section 188 of the New York Code of Criminal Procedure, has been drawn into question.

Additionally, there -- have been raised, in this case, broad questions which concern the rights of our citizenry to move about freely without undue police interference.

May I briefly state forth the factual material underline the events in this case.

The appellant was arrested in the city of Mount Vernon, New York on July 10th, 1964 at about 1:00 p.m. on that day by a man by the name of Lasky who at that time was a police officer attach to the police department of the city of New York.

On the preliminary hearing, in the city of Mount Vernon, officer Lasky testified that the time in question he resided in the 6th floor apartment of a very large multiple dwelling located in the city of Mount Vernon and at approximately at 1:00 p.m. on that day, he had finished taking a shower or he was in the process of taking a shower when he heard some noise outside of his apartment door.

He testified that he went to the peephole of his apartment door, looked out and then he saw two men whom he did not recognize, tip-toeing to the common hallway of the premises and then his testimony was that he made a telephone call and he put some clothing on and again looks through the peephole of the door and saw these two men in the common hallway tip-toeing.

And that he left his apartment with his drawn service revolver in hand and then he heard the two men descending the staircase, common stairway of the building, and he pursued them.

And that he apprehended the defendant, at a point midway the 4th and 5th floor landings of the common stairway of the premises.

Warren E. Burger:

May I interrupt just a moment.



Warren E. Burger:

What little more to the facts from that –- didn't you say that as soon as he came -– when he came out of his door, he slammed the door deliberately to see what effect that would have on them.

When they heard that slamming of the door, they ran, they ran downstairs, am I wrong in --


My recollection of the testimony Mr. Chief Justice is somewhat different though, it maybe a slight difference.

I don't believe that he testified that he slammed the door for that purpose; he may have testified that he slammed his door and heard them exiting hastily but I don't believe that it was done for that purpose or that there was any testimony in the record in that effect.

Abe Fortas:

We note, is it your position that these facts do not constitute probable cause for an arrest?


Mr. Justice Fortis, it is not only my position but it was the New York Court of Appeals position because in referring to this case later on in the (Inaudible) case when they summarized all of their decisions as to what have gone before, they stated, in 20 New York Section 335, that in even in People v. Peters, where the officer initially quip the defendant and felt something hard, this Court held that the officer did not have probable cause to make the arrest until he actually reached into the defendant's pocket, withdrew, identified the burglars tools.

So this has been conceded by the people and reflects the opinion of the Court of Appeals additionally.

Abe Fortas:

For some of us –- for my – feel very pleased at the high standards of the New York Court of Appeals in this instance but if you look at it in terms of Fourth Amendment, there you – regardless as in this case of probable cause.


Yes your honor because --

Abe Fortas:

You do it.

You do it.