Cupp V Murphy

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October 2, 2012 Case Brief Cupp v Murphy 412 U.S. 291 (1973) Facts: Daniel Murphy was convicted of murdering his wife in the second degree. After he found out of the murder he called the police and voluntarily submitted himself to questioning. In the middle of his questioning the police noticed a dark spot on his finger and they asked if they could get a sample and he refused. The police did not respect his wishes and they took the sample anyways of what was under his fingernail. They processed it and later found out there was traces of his wife’s nightgown, skin, and blood all from the deceased victim. The evidence was then admitted at trial. Murphy then proceeded to appeal his conviction stating that they conducted an unlawful search and seizure which goes against his 4th and 14th amendment rights. Issue: Whether the taking of the substance underneath the defendants fingernail without his permission was unlawful. Decision of the Court: His charge was held and he was charged for the murder of his wife. Reasoning of the Court: If the suspect could destroy the evidence then at that time and manner it is constitutional to take the sample or whatever they may need. There was no formal arrest therefore it technically could also be allowed. Under these circumstances, the police are justified in subjecting him to the very limited search and seizure to preserve the evidence they found under his fingernail. Notes * Don’t need search warrant for fingerprints, voice, handwriting * Search to take place because of probable cause, not a full search b/c not arrested. Limited search to protect evidence Warren case * Nothing wrong with going inside the house

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