Reid v. Georgia, 448 U.S. 438 (1980)

2012-08-22 17:31:15

Reid v. Georgia involved a question of search and seizures. Early one morning, the petitioner arrived at the Atlanta Airport for a commercial flight. While there, a federal narcotics agent from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) noticed that the man occasionally looked back at a second man, both of whom was carrying a shoulder bag with no other luggage. The two men then proceeded to leave the terminal together when the agent approached the men and asked for identification. Both men consented to a search of their shoulder bags. However, Reid tried to run away before the search of his belongings began. While running, he abandoned his bag in one of the terminals. His bag was found to contain cocaine and he was later apprehended and charged with possession. The Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the ruling of a lower court and determined that stopping Reid was permissible under the law since he fit the profile of a drug smuggler according to the accounts of the federal agent.

The Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the Georgia Court of Appeals. According to the legal interpretation of reasonable suspicion, the Court held that the agent could not have reasonably suspected Reid of criminal activity based on the circumstances. The actions that the agent saw could be applicable to almost any traveler. The cocaine could not be introduced as evidence because the Court found that it was obtained in violation of the petitioner’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment Rights.


References and Further Reading

  • Garcia, Alfredo. The Fifth Amendment: A Comprehensive Approach. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.
  • LaFave, Wayne R. Search and Seizure: A Treatise on the Fourth Amendment. 4th ed. St. Paul, MN: West, 2004.
  • Wilson, Bradford P. Enforcing the Fourth Amendment: A Jurisprudential History. New York: Garland Press, 1986.

See also Airport Searches; Probable Cause; Profiling (including DWB); Search (General Definition)