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An exception to the requirement for a search warrant is a search incident to a lawful arrest. This is also known as the Chimel Rule after the case that established it.[1] This rule permits an officer to perform a warrantless search during or immediately after a lawful arrest.

This type of search is limited to only the person arrested and the area immediately surrounding the person in which the person may gain possession of a weapon, in some way effect an escape, or destroy or hide evidence.[2]

In the case of Arizona v. Gant,[3] the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a further exemption in that the police can search a car following arrest only if they have a reasonable belief that the person arrested "could have accessed his car at the time of the search" or "that evidence of the offense for which he was arrested might have been found therein."


  1. Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752 (1969) (full-text).
  2. T. O'Connor, Search And Seizure: A Guide to Rules, Requirements, Tests, Doctrines, and Exceptions (2006).
  3. 556 U.S. 332 (2009) (full-text).

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