Weeks v. United States

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Weeks v. United States
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued December 2–3, 1913
Decided February 24, 1914
Full case name Fremont Weeks v. United States
Citations 232 U.S. 383 (more)
34 S. Ct. 341; 58 L. Ed. 652; 1954 U.S. LEXIS 1368
Prior history Defendant convicted, W.D. Mo. Error to the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Missouri
The warrantless seizure of documents from a private home violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, and evidence obtained in this manner is excluded from use in federal criminal prosecutions. Western District of Missouri reversed and remanded.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Day, joined by unanimous
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. IV

Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383 (1914), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court unanimously held that the warrantless seizure of items from a private residence constitutes a violation of the Fourth Amendment.[1] It also prevented local officers from securing evidence by means prohibited under the federal exclusionary rule and giving it to their federal colleagues. It was not until the case of Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961), that the exclusionary rule was deemed to apply to state courts as well.

Facts of the case[edit]

On December 21, 1911, Fremont Weeks, the plaintiff in error and defendant, was arrested by a police officer at the Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri where an express company employed him. Weeks was convicted of using the mails for the purpose of transporting lottery tickets, this was in violation of the Criminal Code. At the time of his arrest, police officers went to Weeks' house to search it. A neighbor told them where to find the key. Officers entered the house of the defendant without a search warrant and took possession of papers and articles, which were afterwards turned over to the U.S. Marshals. The officers returned later on the same day with the marshal, still without a warrant, and seized letters and envelopes they found in the drawer of a chiffonier. These papers were used to convict Weeks of transporting lottery tickets through the mail. Weeks petitioned against the police for the return of his private possessions.


  1. ^ The Fourth Amendment states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

External links[edit]