POLICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
I. LEGAL LIMITS OF POLICE INVESTIGATIONS
A. In a democratic society, police are expected to control crime while complying with the rule of
law as it protects the rights of citizens, including criminal suspects: Evidence used against suspects must be admissible
B. Search and Seizure Concepts
1. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme
Court defines searches as actions by law enforcement officials that intrude upon people's reasonable expectations of
privacy. If people are not free to leave when officers' assert their authority to halt someone's movement, then a seizure
has occurred and the Fourth Amendment requires that the seizure be reasonable.
C. The Concept of Arrest
1. Seizure of an individual by government official who takes suspect into custody. Courts
prefer arrest warrants for felonies, but have not required them. The Fourth Amendment also speaks of seizures (e.g.,
arrests) being based on probable cause.
2. IN TEXTBOOK: Question of Ethics: Apartment search.
D. Warrants and Probable Cause
1. Officer must show reliable information establishing probable cause to believe that a
crime has been or is being committed. The particular premises and pieces of property to be seized must be identified and
the officer must swear under oath that they are correct.
II. PLAIN VIEW DOCTRINE
During a search, incident to arrest or with a warrant, officers can seize and examine items in plain view even if not listed
on warrant, if those items may be evidence of illegal activity.
A. Open Fields Doctrine: property owners have no reasonable expectation of privacy in open fields on and around
B. Plain Feel and Other Senses: Police officers can justify a warrantless search based upon smell or odor and also
based upon feel (Minnesota v. Dickerson 1993)
III. WARRANTLESS SEARCHES
A. Special Needs Beyond the Normal Purpose of Law Enforcement: Officers do not need any
suspicion to justify a search in specific contexts, such as airline passengers or border searches.
1. U.S. Customs Service Policies for Personal Searches
2. Close Up State Supreme Courts and Constitutional Rights
B. Stop and Frisk on the Streets: brief questioning and pat down searches (stop and frisk) permitted based on
reasonable judgment of police officers (Terry v. Ohio, 1968) that a crime as occurred or is about to occur, and that the
stopped person may have a weapon.
C. Search Incident to Lawful Arrest: police ca_ search person and areas in immediate vicinity for weapons when a
lawful arrest is made (Chimel v. California, 1969).
D. Exigent Circumstances: officers might find themselves in the middle of an urgent situation where they must act
swiftly and do not have time to go to court to seek a warrant.
E. Consent: citizen may waive Fourth Amendment and other rights and thereby allow police to conduct a search.
Police may search an apartment based on the consent of someone whom police reasonably believe possesses the
authority to consent even if the person does not actually possess such authority (Illinois v. Rodriguez, 1990).
F. Automobile Searches: automobiles distinguished from homes in terms of people's expectations of privacy and
the risk that evidence may be contained in a mobile vehicle (Carroll v. United States, 1925; United States v. Ross, 1982).
Officers may search automobiles and containers in such vehicles if they have probable cause to do so.
IV. QUESTIONING SUSPECTS
A. Miranda Rules .
1. Upon arrest, suspects must be informed of their rights, based on Supreme Court decisions
in Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) and Miranda v. Arizona (1966). Miranda warnings consist of police informing
a. Of the right to remain silent
b. If they make a statement, it can and will be used against them in court
c. Of right to have attorney present during interrogation, or have an opportunity to
consult with an attorney.
d. If they cannot afford an attorney, the state will provide one.
B. The Consequences of Miranda
1. Police officers have adapted their techniques in various ways to question suspects and get
information despite Miranda limitations. Miranda rights must be provided before questions are asked during custodial
interrogations. Miranda does not apply if a police officer simply comes up to a person and starts to ask questions. The
Supreme has ruled that people know that they can walk away from a police officer.
2. Departments train officers to read the Miranda warnings to suspects as soon as an arrest is made. This is done in
order to make sure the warnings are not omitted as the suspect in processed in the system. The warnings may be read off
a standard "Miranda card" to make sure that the rights are provided consistently and correctly. However, the courts do
not require that police inform suspects of their rights immediately after arrest.
3. Officers are also trained in interrogation techniques that are intended to encourage suspects to talk despite
Miranda warnings suspects of their rights immediately after arrest.
C. New Directions in Criminal Justice Policy: The Suspension of Rights in a Time of Terrorism
V. EXCLUSIONARY RULE
Illegally seized evidence must be excluded from court. The Supreme Court created the exclusionary rule in Weeks v.
United States (1914) as a judicial remedy to guard against police corruption.
A. Application of the Exclusionary Rule to the States: The Supreme Court incorporated the Fourth Amendment
upon the states in Wolf v. Colorado (1949) and later applied the exclusionary rule to the states in Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Without the exclusionary rule, the Fourth Amendment has
B. Exceptions to the Exclusionary Rule: As composition of the Supreme Court became more conservative in the
1970s and 1980s, a number of decisions limited or created exceptions to the exclusionary rule. Among the modifications
1. Public safety exception (New York v. Quarles, 1984).
2. Inevitable discovery rule (Nix v. Williams, 1984).
3. Good faith exception (United States v. Leon, 1984).
KEY TERMS AND PEOPLE
Chief Justice Earl Warren
Chief Justice Warren Burger Fourth Amendment
search and seizure clause probable cause
totality of circumstances
O. J. Simpson
stop and frisk exception interrogation
plain view doctrine
public safety exception
good faith exception
inevitable discovery rule exclusionary rule
privilege against self-incrimination