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Rochin v. California

The Arrest And Conviction Of Rochin

With information that Antonio Rochin was peddling drugs, three police officers from Los Angeles went to his home on 1 July 1949. On arrival they noticed the front door open, so they entered and went upstairs, forcing their way into Rochin's room where they found Rochin and his wife. They also noticed two capsules on the night stand and asked, "Whose stuff is this?" Rochin quickly grabbed and swallowed the capsules, and the police began wrangling with him in an effort to retrieve the capsules. In the course of the struggle, they jumped on him and attempted to force the capsules out of him. After realizing they had failed, the police handcuffed Rochin and took him to a hospital, where they ordered a doctor to pump a solution into his stomach to induce vomiting. In Rochin's vomit, the police found the two capsules, which they confirmed contained morphine.

The police charged Rochin with possession of morphine and a California Superior Court convicted him, sentencing him to 60 days in prison. The two capsules the police forced from Rochin constituted the crucial evidence against him, even though Rochin objected to its admission in court. Upon appeal the district court upheld his conviction, though it did admit that the evidence was obtained by "unlawfully breaking into and entering defendant's room" and by "unlawfully assaulting, battering, torturing, and falsely imprisoning the defendant at the alleged hospital." The California Supreme Court also rejected Rochin's arguments, although two justices felt that they should hear the case and severely criticized the police abuses and the lower court's decision.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953Rochin v. California - Significance, Key Amendments In The Case, The Arrest And Conviction Of Rochin, The Supreme Court Hears The Case