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United States v. Drayton

United States Supreme Court
536 U.S. 194 (2002)



The Greyhound bus that Drayton and Brown (defendants) were riding on made a scheduled stop. While the bus was stopped, three police officers boarded the bus, explained they were conducting an inspection, requested cooperation, and began asking the passengers for permission to search their bags for drugs and weapons. One officer remained at the front of the bus, while the other two, starting in the back, worked their way down the aisle talking to the passengers. The officers were in plain clothes, carried concealed weapons, and wore visible badges. The officers never blocked the aisle or the exit to the bus and testified that any passenger who refused to give consent or chose to exit the bus was free to do so. Drayton and Brown gave the officers permission to search the bag they shared and the police found nothing incriminating inside. One of the officers then noticed that both men were wearing baggy clothes which he found suspicious. The officer asked Brown if he may conduct a search of his person and Brown consented. The officer discovered packages of drugs hidden on Brown’s person and Brown was then arrested. The officer then asked Drayton if he would consent to a body search. Drayton lifted his arms up as a sign of his consent and upon patting him down the officer discovered packets of drugs on Drayton’s person as well. Drayton was also arrested. The trial court held that the police did not act in a coercive manner, that Drayton’s consent was voluntary, and therefore allowed the drug evidence to be admitted at trial. The court of appeals reversed, holding the evidence should be suppressed because people do not feel free to decline a police request unless told they may do so, and remanded the case back to the trial court. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Dissent (Souter, J.)

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