4th Amendmant and Probable Cause

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In the United States, the police must, whenever practicable, obtain advance judicial approval of searches and seizures through the appropriate warrant procedure. In most instances, failure to comply with the warrant requirement can only be excused by exigent circumstances. There should be circumstances sufficient to warrant a prudent man to believe that the person stopped had committed or was committing an offense. Intrusions upon constitutionally guaranteed rights must be based on more than unarticulated hunches, and simple good faith on part of the officer is not enough. The facts should prove reasonable inferences derived from unusual conduct.

A person may assert violation of his Fourth Amendment rights in connection with search or seizure only if he can demonstrate a legitimate expectation of privacy in the area searched or items seized. To establish, for Fourth Amendment purposes, a legitimate expectation of privacy in area searched or items seized, defendants must demonstrate: (1) subjective expectation of privacy; and (2) that this expectation is one that society is prepared to recognize as objectively reasonable.

Under Fourth Amendment, police are authorized to conduct a warrantless protective pat-down of individuals they encounter in the field so long as their concerns are justified by reasonable suspicion of possible danger. Under the Fourth Amendment, police may execute warrantless searches incident to a lawful arrest, as it is reasonable for authorities to search an arrestee for weapons that might threaten their safety, or for evidence which might be destroyed.

The United States Supreme Court has explicitly determined that a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in an automobile belonging to another. Though the passenger does not have a standing to challenge the search of car that he does not own, he can still challenge the lawfulness of his own detention when the car is stopped at a drug interdiction checkpoint, and therefore, he can seek to suppress any evidence seized as fruit of his allegedly illegal detention. Even assuming that drug interdiction checkpoint was legal, such that the officers did not violate the passenger’s Fourth Amendment rights by stopping the vehicle in which he was riding, a passenger’s detention was held to be independent and separate from officers’ discovery of drugs during the search of the vehicle’s driver/owner consensual search of the vehicle.

The stop and search of a moving automobile can be made without a warrant but, automobile or no automobile, there must be probable cause for the search. Probable cause to search exists when there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place. Standards of “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause,” as used to evaluate constitutionality of investigative stops and searches, are not readily, or even usefully, reduced to a neat set of legal rules but rather are common sense, non- technical conceptions that deal with factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent persons, not legal technicians, act. Standards are fluid concepts that take their substantive content from particular contexts in which standards are being assessed.

The United States Supreme Court held that brief, suspicion-less seizures at highway checkpoints for the purposes of combating drunk driving and intercepting illegal immigrants were constitutional. The Fourth Amendment requires that searches and seizures be reasonable. A search and seizure is ordinarily unreasonable in the absence of individualized suspicion of wrongdoing.

When officers have reasonable suspicion that occupants of a vehicle are engaged in criminal activity, they may briefly stop the vehicle to investigate. Police may make an investigative stop of a vehicle when they have reasonable suspicion of an ongoing crime, whether it be a felony or misdemeanor, including drunk driving in jurisdictions...
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