Citation # 501 U.S. 429
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued February 26, 1991
Decided June 20, 1991
Florida v. Bostick was a felony drug trafficking case which set precedence to the legality of random police searches of passengers aboard public buses and trains pertaining to said passenger’s fourth amendment rights. Shortly after boarding a bus departing from Miami headed for Atlanta, Terrance Bostick was approached by members of the Broward County Sheriffs department acting as part of a drug interception task force and without particularly suspicion was questioned by officers. Broward county sheriff officers advised Mr. Bostick of his right to not consent to a search of his personal belongings and then asked his permission to carry out the search. Terrance Bostick granted sheriffs officers request by consenting to the search which revealed a felonious amount of cocaine inside Mr. Bosticks travel bag. Mr. Bostick was immediately arrested and charges of trafficking cocaine were brought fourth against him.
After his arrest Mr. Bostick filed a motion to suppress the cocaine citing that his fourth amendment rights had been violated as part of an unlawful seizure. This motion was denied by the trial court. Florida Appellate court affirmed the trial courts decision but submitted an inquiry to State Supreme court. The question asked of the Supreme Court was would a reasonable passenger have felt free to leave the bus and avoid the police inquiry. It is established that a consensual encounter does not merit fourth amendment scrutiny provided that police do not convey a message of mandatory compliance. Supreme court submit that the State court erred by focusing on free to leave language of previous relevant cases citing that a reasonable passenger would not feel free to leave the bus even in the absence of police presence. Furthermore, they conveyed that more appropriately, scrutiny should be placed upon whether an individual...