Drug Seizure Upheld Under ‘Open Field’ Doctrine

1983

In Oliver v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the conviction of a Kentucky man for manufacturing a controlled substance, based on the police’s discovery of a field of marijuana a mile from his home. The Court rejects the defendant’s argument that the evidence should have been excluded at trial – because the police did not have a warrant, and because the man had posted “No Trespassing” signs around his property. The Court says the field qualifies as an “open field” in which the man could not have had a legitimate expectation of privacy. Consequently, a warrant was not needed, and the search and seizure of the evidence were proper under the Fourth Amendment.