Searches and Seizures
What is in an arrest warrant?
Warrants are typically issued by courts but
can also be issued by houses of Congress
or other legislatures
an arrest warrant must be supported by a
signed and sworn affidavit showing
probable cause that:
a specific crime has been committed, and
the person(s) named in the warrant
committed said crime.
Municipal Court, Springfield Judicial District
To any peace officer of the realm: Complaint
upon oath having been brought before me
that the crime of larceny has been committed,
and accusing Nelson Muntz of the same, you
are hereby commanded forthwith to arrest
and bring that person before me. Bail may be
admitted in the sum of $1,000.00. Dated: 15
May 1997. /s/ Bill Wright, presiding judge.
Police do not need a search warrant to search a
vehicle if it was stopped by police on the road or
is in a non-residential area, so long as the officer
has probable cause to believe that it contains
contraband or evidence of a crime.
Police may then search any open or closed
container with that vehicle.
Police do not need a search warrant, or even
probable cause, to perform a limited search of a
suspect's outer clothing for weapons, if police
have a reasonable suspicion to justify the
intrusion - a Terry 'stop and frisk.‘
legal principle holding that evidence collected or analyzed in
violation of the U.S. Constitution is inadmissible for a criminal
prosecution in a court of law (that is, it cannot be used in a criminal
The Exclusionary Rule is designed to provide a remedy and
disincentive, short of criminal prosecution, for prosecutors and
police who illegally gather evidence in violation of the Fourth and
Weeks v. United States, is a case in which the United States
Supreme Court held unanimously that illegal seizure of items from a
private residence constitutes a violation of the Fourth Amendment
Mapp v Ohio, was a landmark case in the area of U.S. criminal
procedure, in which the United States Supreme Court decided that
evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment protection
against "unreasonable searches and seizures" must be excluded
from criminal prosecutions in state courts, as well as federal courts.
Searches without a warrant
In some cases a search warrant is not required, such as where
consent is given by a person in control of the thing to be searched.
Another exception is when evidence is in plain view doctrine - if the
officer has a legitimately on the premises, his observation is from a
legitimate vantage point, and it is immediately apparent that the
evidence is contraband, the officer is within his right to seize the
object in question.
When police arrest an individual, they are also permitted to conduct
a full search of the suspect's person, any area within that person's
immediate reach, and any vehicle which they recently occupied, for
weapons or other contraband.
If the subject is arrested in a home, police may search the room in
which they were arrested, and perform a 'protective sweep‘
Searches are also allowed in emergency situations where the public
is at risk