The History and Significance of the Fourth Amendment

Topics: Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, United States Constitution, Searches and seizures Pages: 4 (1361 words) Published: April 30, 2012

"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." -Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution (4) A search as described in the Constitution is defined as when an expectation of privacy that society considers reasonable is infringed by a governmental employee or by an agent of the government. A seizure refers to the interference with an individual’s possessory interest in property. To meet the criteria of an unreasonable seizure, the property’s owner must have had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the items seized. (2) The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution was added as part of the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791. It deals with protecting people from the searching of their homes and private property without properly executed search warrants. In 1604, Judge Sir Edward Coke first identified this right in England. In the case of Semayne (v. England) the judge ruled that, "The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defense against injury and violence as for his repose." He determined that subjects of the kingdom had the right to protection even from the king's representatives in cases of illegal search and seizure. He also noted conversely, that lawfully conducted searches were perfectly acceptable. The precedence this case established has remained a part of English law up until today. (1) The most noteworthy English case dealing with the right to freedom from illegal search and seizure is Entick vs. Carrington, 1765. Royal representatives acting on the orders of Lord Halifax had broken into the home of a private citizen named John...
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