In some cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that particular searches and seizures need only "reasonable suspicion" to be constitutional—not the higher justification level of probable cause. What's the difference, and when is reasonable suspicion sufficient?
September 2, 2015
In a series of cases, the court has upheld searches and seizures made by officers who were mistaken in their understanding of the facts they confronted, or as to the law to be applied.
February 27, 2015
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court made the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule binding on the states in the 1961 decision in Mapp v. Ohio, thousands of published decisions from state and federal courts have applied the exclusionary rule to thousands of searches and seizures. It's no wonder the 50-year tidal wave of exclusionary decisions has left confusion and misunderstanding in its wake. Here are five areas of the law that seem to suffer the most in translation.
November 11, 2014
Some search-and-seizure rules are not very clear, and state and local federal courts might apply them differently. How can you be expected to pick and choose the right rule on an issue for which there doesn't seem to be just one "right" rule?
January 6, 2014
Under what circumstances would the Fourth Amendment allow routine collection of DNA samples upon arrest and booking? A recent Supreme Court decision addressed this issue.
August 5, 2013
Two cases from Florida have brought the U.S. Supreme Court to two different conclusions regarding K-9 searches in 2013. One is an affirmation of existing practice, but the other breaks new ground and imposes new limits.
May 3, 2013
Let's face it—law enforcement officers sometimes make detentions, arrests, entries, or searches that run afoul of one or more of the hundreds of judicial decisions differentiating "reasonable" and "unreasonable" searches and seizures.
March 5, 2013
Warrantless searches are presumed to be unreasonable, but the U.S. Supreme Court has acknowledged that a warrantless search may still be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment if it falls within the guidelines of one or more of a limited number of exceptions.
February 5, 2013
As previous "Point of Law" articles have discussed, there are four—and only four—legal justifications for entering private premises. For several reasons, the preferred authority for entry is a judicial warrant.
December 10, 2012
When the government, in an attempt to get information, "trespasses" on any of the items specifically listed in the Fourth Amendment ("persons, houses, papers and effects"), this constitutes a "search," whether or not there is any infringement of a suspect's legitimate expectation of privacy.
November 5, 2012
As private citizens, reporters are not bound by the Fourth Amendment. You are. Private citizens generally can't be sued for violating someone's Fourth Amendment rights. You can. Read on.
October 10, 2012
After issuing a series of decisions over the years that have been mostly deferential to custodial officials in managing their secure facilities, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a new ruling on the constitutionality of visual strip searches of minor-offense arrestees.
June 1, 2012
Although some searches and seizures may only be justifiable under a single approach, many can be justified several different ways. The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that when this is the case, any independent source of contested evidence will suffice, even when another does not.
January 12, 2012
The decade of the 1960s gave us four of the most significant cases that apply to our daily work: Mapp, Brady, Miranda, and Terry. These four are among the most prominent criminal law cases you should know more about to understand how we got to where we are.
December 2, 2011
Checkpoint stops are different-multiple vehicles are stopped one after the other, at the same place, without any suspicion beforehand that anyone in particular may be engaged in unlawful activity.
November 1, 2011