Minnesota v. Olson

495 U.S. 91 (1990)

One-Sentence Takeaway: An overnight guest has reasonable expectation of privacy and, absent exigent circumstances, the police officers need to secure a warrant to secure his arrest.  

Supreme Court Syllabus:

Police suspected respondent Olson of being the driver of the getaway car used in a robbery-murder. After recovering the murder weapon and arresting the suspected murderer, they surrounded the home of two women with whom they believed Olson had been staying. When police telephoned the home and told one of the women that Olson should come out, a male voice was heard saying “tell them I left.” Without seeking permission, and with weapons drawn, they entered the home, found Olson hiding in a closet, and arrested him. Shortly thereafter, he made an inculpatory statement, which the trial court refused to suppress. He was convicted of murder, armed robbery, and assault. The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed, ruling that Olson had a sufficient interest in the women’s home to challenge the legality of his warrantless arrest, that the arrest was illegal because there were no exigent circumstances to justify warrantless entry, and that his statement was tainted, and should have been suppressed.

Held: The arrest violated Olson’s Fourth Amendment rights.

(a) Olson’s status as an overnight guest is alone sufficient to show that he had an expectation of privacy in the home that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. See Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U. S. 128, 439 U. S. 143-144; cf. Jones v. United States, 362 U. S. 257. The distinctions relied on by the State between this case and Jones — that there, the overnight guest was left alone and had a key to the premises with which he could come and go and admit and exclude others — are not legally determinative. All citizens share the expectation that hosts will more likely than not respect their guests’ privacy interests even if the guests have no legal interest in the premises and do not have the legal authority to determine who may enter the household. Pp. 495 U. S. 95-100.

(b) The State Supreme Court applied essentially the correct standard in holding that there were no exigent circumstances justifying the warrantless entry: an entry may be justified by hot pursuit of a fleeing felon, the imminent destruction of evidence, the need to prevent a suspect’s escape, or the risk of danger to the police or others; but, in the absence of hot pursuit, there must be at least probable cause to believe that one or more of the other factors were present and, in assessing the risk of danger, the gravity of the crime and likelihood that the suspect is armed should be considered. This Court is not inclined to disagree with the fact-specific application of this standard by the lower court, which pointed out that, although a grave crime was involved, Olson was known not to be the murderer and the murder weapon had been recovered; that there was no suggestion of danger to the women; that several police squads surrounded the house; that it was Sunday afternoon; that it was evident that the suspect was going nowhere; and that, if he came out of the house, he would have been promptly apprehended. Pp. 495 U. S. 100-101.

436 N.W.2d 92, affirmed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, STEVENS, O’CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., post, p. 495 U. S. 101, and KENNEDY, J., post, p. 495 U. S. 102, filed concurring opinions. REHNQUIST, C.J., and BLACKMUN, J., dissented.

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