Payton v. New York 445 U.S. 573 (1980)

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PAYTON v. NEW YORK 445 U.S. 573 (1980)

the fourth amendment, which the fourteenth makes applicable to the states, says that the "right of people to be secure in their … houses … shall not be violated." Payton was the first case in which the Supreme Court confronted the issue whether police may enter a private home, without an arrest warrant or consent, to make a felony arrest. New York, sustained by its courts, authorized warrantless arrests, by forcible entry if necessary, in any premises, if the police had probable cause to believe a person had committed a felony. In Payton's case the police seized evidence in plain view at the time of arrest and used it to convict him.

A 6–3 Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice john paul stevens, reversed and held the state statute unconstitutional. Absent exigent circumstances, "a man's house is his castle" and unlike a public place may not be invaded without a warrant. Stevens found slight guidance in history for his position on the special privacy of the home in the case of a felony arrest, but he insisted that the Fourth Amendment required a magistrate's warrant. Justice byron r. white for the dissenters declared that the decision distorted history and severely hampered law enforcement; the amendment required only that a warrantless felony arrest be made on probable cause in daytime.

(See steagald v. united states.)

Leonard W. Levy