July 11, 2013
Russell Galbreath, MPA
Warrantless Search & Seizure
Navigating the Fourth Amendment and the law of warrantless searches and seizures largely involves case law rather than statutes, and today’s principles are the results of more than 200 years of judicial evolution. The constitution has been the back bone of the United States legal system since it was first written and signed by our founding fathers. This document has been the topic of many debates and has gone through many changes and clarifications throughout the years. The Fourth Amendment of the constitution is one of the most debated amendments.
Search Warrants are Generally Required
Search warrants require probable cause, oath or affirmation, and a particular description of the place and object of the search to meet constitutional requirements. A judge may issue a search warrant only after reviewing a sworn statement of facts showing probable cause to search a particular place for particular items. The standard for probable cause is objective, meaning that there is sufficient information to persuade a reasonable person that a certain place contains evidence of a crime. A search warrant consists of the warrant itself and a sworn affidavit of facts supporting the request.
Exceptions to the Search Warrant Rule
With the understanding that police officers need a warrant to search for information that can be related to criminal activity by an individual, most people feel as this is the only way an police officer can search you or your property. They know that according to the exclusionary rule, evidence gained in an illegal search cannot be used to convict them of a crime. However, there are several circumstances the police do not need a warrant for a search, or for the evidence found from that search, to be able to use in court. Those exceptions to that rule are Search Incident to a Lawful Arrest, Hot Pursuit of a