Search and Seizure
The 4th Amendment
“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 probably
cause, supported by Oath or affirmation,
and particularly describing the place to be
search and the persons or things to be
Why have the 4th amendment?
Protects your reasonable expectation of
Dresser in your bedroom
Dresser in your girlfriends bedroom
Protection is against unreasonable searches.
4th Amendment only limits the actions of
government not private citizens.
Your parents can search your room
Your boss (unless you work for the government) can
search your locker at work and take evidence to
What does Constitution protect?
Persons, Houses, Papers, Effects
Clothes, wallet, body fluid?
Apartment, front porch, mobile home, fields?
Diary, books, e-mail, text messages?
Backpack, i-pod, car?
How do we enforce the 4th
Exclusionary Rule – If court finds evidence
was illegally obtained it cannot be used at
trial against the defendant.
Suppression Hearing – pre-trial procedure
where defendant challenges the evidence
against him/her based on a violation of
his/her Constitutional rights.
Searches with a warrant
A search warrant is a court order allowing
police to search a particular place looking
for a particular item. (pg. 124)
How do you get a search warrant?
Police submit an affidavit (pg. 123), sworn
Item to be seized
Probable cause (why they want to search the
Searches without a warrant
Courts have recognized some situations
when a search without a warrant can be
Search incident to lawful arrest
Lawfully arrested person and the area
immediately surrounding the person
Hidden weapons or evidence that might
Stop and Frisk
Reasonable belief that suspect is about to
commit a crime and armed
Police may stop and frisk for weapons
Once you consent to search you loose ALL
RIGHT to challenge the evidence
Usually only own property.
Parent can consent to child’s property
Roommate can consent to common areas
Object in plain view can be seized without
Police must be where they have a right to
Ex. Marijuana plant sitting in living room
No need for warrant when police chase a
suspect into a building.
Smell smoke, hear screams
Police enter building to try to rescue
someone and see illegal items in plain
Border and airport searches
Customs agents at border don’t need a
warrant or probable cause.
However searches must be random and
searches that are “intrusive” require
The police must first have a articulable reason
to stop the car, and then have other suspicion
to search following the stop.
They must follow through with the first
reason why they stopped you.
No requirement for a warrant
Greater protection from searches
Warrantless searches require probable cause
+ other “emergency” situation
Occupant committed a felony, or
Vehicle used in the commission of a
Evidence of a crime concealed in vehicle,
Accessible weapons in the vehicle.
Likely evidence will be driven away.
Cannot secure scene while obtaining a
Guidelines for Vehicle Consent
Police must first return paperwork
Tell person they are free to go
Police can then ask if they can search
The key is that the person being asked for
consent cannot feel forced