Police Requirements for Certain Tasks

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Explain what would be required of police to do the following:

Search a home suspected of containing marijuana:

If the police suspect that a home contains marijuana, they must first obtain a search warrant under the Fourth Amendment, unless there are exigent circumstances such as destruction of evidence, hot pursuit, or some other exception that applies.

Although the Fourth Amendment protects a man’s home, neither the home nor all the surrounding objects are beyond the capacity of being searched under proper circumstances. If the police officers possess a search warrant to search a particular home, the warrant may extend to include vehicles parked within the structure and those parked nearby if the objects of the search warrant could be hidden within the vehicle(s). Since the goal of a search is to find something, then if the vehicle(s) were not searched it could become frustrating and since vehicles could store marijuana, then a vehicle(s) should be searched found on or near the property or home just like other personal property would be searched.

Modern technology has given new methods to search humans, buildings, homes, and vehicles. Marijuana is usually cultivated with high-intensity lamps; police can conduct an infrared scan that creates a thermal image of the outside of the home that can measure heat emanating from the interior. In the case of Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27 (2001), this modern technology was used. The information gathered from the infrared scan was used and can be used with other evidence to produce probable cause for a search warrant. In the case of Kyllo, the evidence obtained from the search warrant was used against Kyllo at his trial for growing marijuana, and the court of appeals affirmed the conviction, but the Supreme Court of the United States reversed the decision.

Even with this new technology that allows government access to information radiating from the home, the Supreme Court of the United States has fallen back on the philosophy and jurisprudence of the Fourth Amendment.

Another modern technology in use is drug-locating dogs that are usually used at airports for sniffing luggage.

Search an auto after a traffic stop:

The search of a vehicle because of its mobility has different issues under the Fourth Amendment than for homes and buildings. Because of a vehicle’s mobility, it could drive right through a court’s jurisdiction before a warrant could be obtained. Since all vehicles have windows, persons who are inside the vehicle and who have placed personal items within the interior of the vehicle may expect an arguably lower probability of privacy. Motor vehicles, as well as their operators, have been subject to extensive regulation by the states; court interpretation of the right to be secure against unreasonable searches in one’s papers and effects when they are contained within a vehicle shows that a person has a diminished expectation of privacy in a vehicle.

Although there is a reduced level of the Fourth Amendment protection, where vehicles are concerned, the general rule requires that, prior to a search, the police must possess probable cause and although the level of privacy is reduced, the level of probable cause remains identical to that for any other search where evidence of criminality is being sought after. Probable cause may develop due to a police officer’s observations, reports from other officers, information from informants, or a combination of all these factors. In the case of Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132 (1925) police officers had convincing evidence that the Carrolls were transporting illegal liquor in violation of federal law because the men had offered illegal liquor to be sold to the officers at an earlier time. When the police officers saw the same car, they possessed probable cause to stop and search the vehicle.

Although the Fourth Amendment states that no warrants will be issued unless there is probable cause,...
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