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Search and Seizure

Reasonable Suspicion

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?

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Mistake of Law: To Err Is Human

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.

SCOTUS Rules Evidence Cannot Be Suppressed Just Because an Officer Made a "Reasonable" Traffic Stop Mistake

Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that the keystone of the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable search and seizure is the word "unreasonable." And in this case, the officer's belief that having a broken tail light was illegal counted as a reasonable mistake. The traffic stop and the subsequent consensual search of the car were therefore also reasonable.

New Bill Would Require NYPD to Get Suspect's Search Consent

Members of New York City's City Council are introducing a bill that would force police officers to get written or audio permission from a suspect before they could conduct a search.

The 5 Biggest Search-and-Seizure Myths

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.

Pa. Court Rules on Warrantless Vehicle Searches

The Pennsylvania state Supreme Court ruled last week that police are allowed to search vehicles without a warrant. The split-decision from the Supreme Court allows police to conduct searches of cars based only on probable cause.

Supreme Court to Hear Cases of Cell Phone Searches

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, will hear cases involving search of personal cell phones incident to arrest.

Chasing Misdemeanants

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?

Calif. Law Requires Juvenile Interrogation Videotaping

A new California law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday requires police agencies to videotape interrogations of juvenile suspects in homicide cases to prevent false confessions.

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Video: Fla. Officer Suspended In Bra Search

The Lakeland (Fla.) Police officer who told a woman to shake out her bra for drugs received a one-day suspension. Officer Dustin Fetz must also complete re-training in arrest, search and seizure laws and procedures, and complete an in-depth research project.