Search Warrants and Proable Cause

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CRJS101-1301A-10 Foundations of Criminal Justice Systems
Individual Project 3 – Search Warrants, Probable Cause, and Searches

The concept of search warrants, probable cause, and searches go hand in hand as part of the legal system. Each step makes the next step part of the process. This process gives us certain civil liberties and are all rooted in the 4th Amendment of the Constitution of The United State of America. The following information will interpret, define, and support the legal justification of warrants, probable cause, and searches. The definition of a search warrant is a judicial document that authorizes police officers the right to search an individual or a place to attain evidence for presentation in criminal prosecutions.   A search warrant is issued to search people or private property in order to seize suspected evidence in a criminal or civil case. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution addresses the issues of search warrants rights in the following: 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 probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Agreeing with The Constitutional Theory of the Fourth Amendment (1988), our forefathers of America recognized during the fight for freedom the harm and abuses that occurred in the colonies to innocent people by the British. When declaring our independence the framers of the Constitution made provisions to protect rights of the every day citizen. This was based on a fear that a police state in any form has the potential to become chaotic and problematic when it has not recognized that freedom and liberty is meaningless when victimization by the police is a real and menacing threat. Subsequently this amendment was designed to protect the rights of individuals from unlawful search and seizures. Search warrant laws designate when a warrant is or not required to search an individual or private property of an individual. Police officers who want to conduct a search must obtain a search warrant by submitting affidavits and other evidence to a judge to establish probable cause in order to believe a search will produce evidence related to a crime. In accordance with The Fourth Amendment, the provisions of this amendment are essentially about privacy. This freedom protects against unreasonable searches by state or federal law enforcement authorities. Sadly, this particular freedom is misinterpreted in popular culture. So much that a recent debate was generated by Rep. Alan B. Williams (FL) when he decided to quote a line from Grammy Award Winner Hip-Hop artist Jay-Z’s song “99 Problems” at the House of Representatives saying: “I know my rights, so you will need a warrant for that. Aren’t you as sharp as a tack? Are you a lawyer or something?” The dispute was over an amendment to the Florida State Code that would allow certain type of hearsay as evidence in criminal cases. Not only are Jay-Z’s lines misquoted, the correct lyrics by Jay-Z are misinterpretation of what The Fourth Amendment entails. In the song, Jay-Z, objects to a search of his locked trunk and glove compartment where a weapon and possibly drugs are located. According to Professor Caleb Mason in his 19-page review (2012) of the song in relation to search warrants, this is a classic example of perpetuating an incorrect perception of how the Fourth Amendment works. If done correctly a search warrant will be issued with probable cause.

According to Ballentine’s Law dictionary (1994), probable cause is a reasonable amount of suspicion, which is supported by circumstances sufficiently strong enough to justify a judicious and cautious person's confidence that certain facts are probably true. In relationship with law enforcement, probable cause...
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