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9.24 Particular Rights—Fourth Amendment—Unreasonable Seizure of Person—Detention During Execution of Search Warrant

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9.24 Particular Rights—Fourth Amendment—Unreasonable Seizure
of Person—Detention During Execution of Search Warrant 

            In general, a law enforcement officer may detain [a person in the immediate vicinity] [an occupant] of a premises during a search of that premises authorized by a search warrant so long as the officer detains the person in a reasonable manner and does not detain the person any longer than the time it takes to complete the search. 

            To prove the seizure in this case was unreasonable, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that [he] [she] was detained in an unreasonable manner or for an unreasonable period of time after the search was completed or both.          

            In determining whether the officer[s] detained the plaintiff unreasonably in this case, consider all of the circumstances known to the officer[s] on the scene, including: 

1.         the severity of the suspected crime or other circumstances that led to the search warrant; 

2.         whether the plaintiff was the subject of the investigation that led to the search warrant; 

3.         whether the plaintiff posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officer[s] or to others or to the ability of the officer[s] to conduct the search safely; 

4.         whether the plaintiff was actively resisting arrest or attempting to flee; 

5.         whether the detention of the plaintiff was unnecessarily painful, degrading, prolonged, or involved an undue invasion of privacy; 

6.         whether the detention of the plaintiff facilitated the orderly completion of the search; and 

[7.        insert other factors particular to the case.] 

            Under the Fourth Amendment, an officer may use only such force to detain a person as is “objectively reasonable” under the circumstances.  In other words, you must judge the reasonableness of a particular use of force from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene and not with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. 


            Use this instruction only in conjunction with the applicable elements instructions, Instructions 9.3–9.8, and in conjunction with Instruction 9.20 (Particular Rights—Fourth Amendment—Unreasonable Seizure of Person—Generally). 

            This instruction is based on the district court’s jury instructions approved in Muehler v. Mena, 544 U.S. 93, 104 n.2, 108 (2005) (Stevens, J., concurring).  In Muehler, the Supreme Court reiterated its holding in Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981), that “officers executing a search warrant for contraband have the authority ‘to detain the occupants of the premises while a proper search is conducted.’”  Id. at 98.  The Court noted that Summers had 

posited three legitimate law enforcement interests that provide substantial justification for detaining an occupant: “preventing flight in the event that incriminating evidence is found”; “minimizing the risk of harm to the officers”; and facilitating “the orderly completion of the search,” as detainees’ “self-interest may induce them to open locked doors or locked containers to avoid the use of force . . .. Inherent in Summers’ authorization to detain an occupant of the place to be searched is the authority to use reasonable force to effectuate the detention.  

Id. at 98-99; see also Blight v. City of Manteca, 944 F.3d 1061, 1068 (9th Cir. 2019).  Summers applies only to search warrants and does not give law enforcement officers the categorical authority to detain home occupants incident to the execution of an arrest warrant.  Sharp v. County of Orange, 871 F.3d 901, 915 (9th Cir. 2017).  Whether such a detention is authorized depends on the particular circumstances confronting the officer, such as the need to detain “occupants to stabilize the situation while searching for the subject of an arrest warrant or conducting a lawful protective sweep of the premises.” Id. See also Blight v. City of Manteca, 944 F.3d at 1068 (holding that detention of elderly person not per se unreasonable). 

            After Muehler v. Mena, the Ninth Circuit noted in Dawson v. City of Seattle that “[t]o determine whether a detention incident to a search is constitutionally reasonable, [a court should] balance the law enforcement interests served by the detention against the public’s privacy interests.”  435 F.3d 1054, 1065-66 (9th Cir. 2006).  “[D]etaining a building’s occupants serves at least three law enforcement interests:  first, detention prevents a suspect from fleeing before the police discover contraband; second, detention minimizes the risk that an officer or an occupant might be harmed during the search; and third, detention often expedites a search.”  Id. at 1066. The court held:  

[T]he duration of a detention may be coextensive with the period of a search and require no further justification.  The police do not, however, have unfettered authority to detain a building’s occupants in any way they see fit.  Muehler confirms an officer’s authority to detain a building’s occupants during a search so long as the officer conducts the detention in a reasonable manner. 

Id. (citations omitted); see also Howell v. Polk, 532 F.3d 1025, 1026 (9th Cir. 2008) (per curiam) (holding that whether “knock-and-announce” search warrant was unreasonably executed was a jury question to be determined under the totality of the circumstances). 

            In Bailey v. United States, 568 U.S. 186, 201 (2013), the Supreme Court concluded that because the rule announced in Summers “grants substantial authority to police officers to detain outside of the traditional rules of the Fourth Amendment, it must be circumscribed.”  The Court decided “[a] spatial constraint defined by the immediate vicinity of the premises to be searched is therefore required for detentions incident to the execution of a search warrant.”  Id.  (holding that detention of person one mile from premises, who had left premises before search began, was not sufficiently connected to search of premises).  “Confining an officer’s authority to detain under Summers to the immediate vicinity of a premises to be searched is a proper limit because it accords with the rationale of the rule.”  Id.  Thus, as in Bailey, when law enforcement waits to stop or detain a suspect until after he or she has left the search location, “the lawfulness of detention is controlled [not by Summers, but] by other standards,” namely, probable cause or reasonable suspicion.  Id. at 202. 

Revised May 2020