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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(By appointment of the Court, argued the cause for the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
Facts of the Case 

A bullet was fired through the floor of Hicks's apartment which injured a man in the apartment below. To investigate the shooting, police officers entered Hicks's apartment and found three weapons along with a stocking mask. During the search, which was done without a warrant, an officer noticed some expensive stereo equipment which he suspected had been stolen. The officer moved some of the components, recorded their serial numbers, and seized them upon learning from police headquarters that his suspicions were correct.


Was the search of the stereo equipment (a search beyond the exigencies of the original entry) reasonable under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments?

Decision: 6 votes for Hicks, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment

No. The Court found that the search and seizure of the stereo equipment violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Citing the Court's holding in Coolidge v. New Hampshire (1971), Justice Scalia upheld the "plain view" doctrine which allows police officers under some circumstances to seize evidence in plain view without a warrant. However, critical to this doctrine, argued Scalia, is the requirement that warrantless seizures which rely on no "special operational necessities" be done with probable cause. Since the officer who seized the stereo equipment had only a "reasonable suspicion" and not a "probable cause" to believe that the equipment was stolen, the officer's actions were not reconcilable with the Constitution.

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ARIZONA v. HICKS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 03 September 2015. <>.
ARIZONA v. HICKS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited September 3, 2015).
"ARIZONA v. HICKS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 3, 2015,