Search and Seizure under the Fourth Amendment



Search and Seizure under the Fourth Amendment

Search and Seizure under the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution stipulates that personal privacy and the rights of every US citizen should be protected from any form of instruction by the government. The Amendment was meant to protect the citizens against any form of harassment or overreaching of the government through intruding in people’s lives as a form of looking for any illegal activities. The amendment was aimed at protecting any private property, persons and businesses against any breach from the government. It forms a fundamental mode of control that looks at ensuring that people are not harassed or arrested with no probable cause or warrant issued by the courts. There are however specific circumstances under the law where the fourth Amendment can be breached but there have to be an interpretation in law. The fourth amendment protects any form of search or seizure without a warrant. It has been equivocal in the protection of people’s rights since there are set controls that are critical to the protection of people’s privacy and rights. This paper assesses the fourth amendment and its applicability in cases of seizure and search as applied in the United States.
The Fourth Amendment protected people against any form of search that did not have a warrant. Search is one of the questions that the Fourth Amendment aimed to control and limits to ensure that people’s privacy was maintained (Kerr, 2004). Search occurred when an individual physically intrudes on a person. House, papers or possession where there is expected that the individual has a right to privacy. The law was aimed at controlling the methods used by the government to collect information and evidence that could later be admissible in court. According to the interpretation of the Court the information collected by police officers without a warrant would not be admissible in a court of law since people did not expect that there would be an intrusive action against them when going through their activities. The information collected by officers in such missions or search approaches was illegally obtained and was not allowed to influence the decisions of the court. There is a chance to control and assess the different approaches that are used by government officers to collect information. There however, needs proof of reasonable privacy before the fourth amendment can be invoked (Lafarve, 2004). If an individual gives up information that was not expected to be private these actions are not protected under the Fourth Amendment since the information given was in the public domain. The change in technology is one of the main threats that would have influenced the systems and methods of collecting information and evidence from suspects. The state of the art technology that is used by government officers to monitor and gather information on a site or an area would have been more intrusive. The information collected on suspects needs to be within the law to protect the rights of private citizens. Probable cause should however be established before a decision to hand in a search warrant has been given. It is important for the officers therefore, to gain any form of substantial information in regards to the suspect before they can ask for a warrant on a specific case (Lafarve, 2004). Electronic surveillance is particularly one of the main methods that is used to collect information and can be intrusive for people within the society structure.
Seizure is defined as the unreasonable arrest or confiscation of a person or property without a warrant. Police officers are therefore prohibited from making arrests or taking people’s property without a warrant. The people are protected by law to ensure that they are not mistreated or arrested against their will by different people in the society (Lafarve, 2004). The people are not harassed or taken into custody without following the proper approach as required by the law. Every individual is given a right to their property or against any arrests even if the police officers are looking to gather information or evidence against a suspect. The courts are given the chance to determine probable cause and in effect given an arrest warrant or a warrant to search an individual’s property. It is therefore one of the most important aspects that protects people from any form of action that officers would take to take in individuals for questioning. The police officers are given a chance to make legal investigations and take proper channels to gather the information required to proof probable cause that is important in making a case (Kerr, 2004). There are different approaches that are used by police officers in making an arrest therefore these arrests are considered unreasonable and one can invoke the fourth amendment to make their case.
The United States government established these structures to ensure that there are no officers or government officials who use their position to frustrate the people in the society. There is a chance to make the best case when an individual has been arrested or a search done following the proper channels (Lafarve, 2004). There are circumstances where the Fourth Amendment does not apply and officers do not require a warrant to make an arrest of a search. In the case of an open field or in plain sight, where the officers can see a weapon or illegal substance that is in plain sight they are not required to get a warrant to make the arrest. In motor vehicles the rule does not apply therefore, the police officers can take any model to search a car since it is not expected to be reasonably private. There other exigent circumstances that do not require a warrant, for instance a police check conducted because of a threat to people’s lives (Lafarve, 2004). However, the threat should be assessed for its feasibility and danger it poses to the people. It is critical to ensure that one understands all the aspects of the major cases before arguing breach of the fourth amendment. It is one of the most intriguing and highly contentious issue that can be assessed and examined in the society. The law has been widely used in the past and has been interpreted differently in the models that are used in the United States.
The case of Kyllo versus United States was a case where the Department of interior had used thermal imaging devices outside Danny Kyllo’s home in Florence in 2001 (Kerr, 2004). The case was first presided and was established that since the devices could not hear the conversations it was not intrusive. The information collected was not intrusive since the thermal imaging devices did not track any information that was protected since there were no conversations collected through the machines used. The thermal imaging devices were used to detect thermal conditions and light emission and the controlled environment that was used by the devices in the house (Kerr, 2004). He was suspected of growing Marijuana in his house and the intense light and heat were catalysts for photosynthesis for the drugs. Although he first tried to suppress the evidence arguing that the information impended his rights under the Fourth Amendment, he later pled conditional guilty. Kyllo argued that the search constituted part of the Search under the Fourth Amendment and was not admissible in court as part evidence. Although he was not acquitted on these grounds he decided to take the case to the Supreme Court on interpretation of the same laws. The judge in the Supreme Court held that his rights had been impeded. The search was under the Fourth Amendment and therefore the evidence collected was not admissible in court. The officers did not obtain the proper warrant to use the devices on Kyllo’s house and this constituted as part of illegal act against his privacy. Although the officers did not tap into his conversations or listen to his private deliberations, the fact that they used the machines to invade on his property without his consent constituted a breach of law (Kerr, 2004). The judge observed that with the improvement in technology the systems that models that will be used to breach into people’s lives in future will only be improved therefore there was a need for a precedent that controlled these actions in the society.
In conclusion, search and seizure are important aspects of the society that need to be assessed and examined through individual cases. The fourth amendment has offered people rights over their property and privacy that has efficiently enabled people to take the proper cause of action in different cases that face them. The officers have also had to be accountable for their actions thereby creating a good connection and increasing the level of diligence in the force.

Kerr, O. S. (2004). The fourth amendment and new technologies: constitutional myths and the case for caution. Michigan Law Review, 801-888.
LaFave, W. R. (2004). Search and seizure: a treatise on the Fourth Amendment (Vol. 4). West Group Publishing.

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