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Expanded Definition of "Search"

Expanded Definition of "Search"

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

Publicity Can Be Costly

Publicity Can Be Costly

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

Immigration Checks

Immigration Checks

Under what circumstances is it permissible to inquire into a person's immigration status? The Supreme Court has addressed this question in several opinions, most recently in its 2012 decision reviewing Arizona's immigration statutes.

August 2, 2012

Innocent Behavior Can Be Suspicious

Innocent Behavior Can Be Suspicious

If you articulate circumstances that are suspicious, based on your training and experience, you should not be second-guessed by judges on the ground that the conduct you considered was just a combination of innocent acts.

July 10, 2012

Strip Searching Misdemeanor Arrestees

Strip Searching Misdemeanor Arrestees

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

The Independent Source Doctrine

The Independent Source Doctrine

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

Four Famous Cases

Four Famous Cases

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

Vehicle Checkpoints

Vehicle Checkpoints

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

'Good Faith' Revisited

'Good Faith' Revisited

The Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule is not absolute. In a number of decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that even where a police officer makes an unreasonable search or seizure, there may be compelling reasons not to exclude resulting evidence.

October 17, 2011

Exigent Entry

Exigent Entry

Warrantless entries are limited to those authorized by consent, probation or parole search conditions, or "exigent circumstances" involving some sort of emergency requiring immediate action. One category of exigency that may justify warrantless entry is the need to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence.

July 7, 2011

Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion

Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion

Some actions you take have been classified by Supreme Court decisions as requiring that you articulate a "reasonable suspicion" in order to make them constitutionally reasonable, while others can be undertaken only if there is "probable cause" ("PC"). But what do these terms mean? And how do you match the right level of justification with the kind of conduct you're seeking to justify?

June 7, 2011

Impound Inventory

Impound Inventory

When a suspect's vehicle is lawfully impounded (such as when the driver is arrested where the vehicle cannot be safely parked and locked, and there is no sober, licensed driver to take custody of it), it is usually permissible to conduct a standard inventory of the vehicle and its contents.

April 14, 2011

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

When you take down a drug house, or enter a home to investigate domestic violence, or serve a search warrant at a residence, which of the multiple people that you sometimes encounter would have the legal standing to challenge the lawfulness of your entry and search?

March 10, 2011

K-9 Drug Detection Cases

K-9 Drug Detection Cases

In the usual case, both the seizure and the search must be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment in order for the evidence to be admissible. The U.S. Supreme Court and federal appeals courts have considered both issues when officers have used K-9s to detect contraband.

January 3, 2011

The 'Independent Source' Doctrine

The 'Independent Source' Doctrine

If you can identify two or more ways to justify a detention, arrest, search, or entry, you increase the odds that at least one of them will be upheld in court.

July 30, 2010

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