Search & Seizure Protocol

Hardly anyone agrees on how to interpret the Fourth Amendment. The amendment states that all people in the United States will be protected from unreasonable government searches, specifically: “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.”

Search Warrant

A search warrant is government paper that is given by a judge. The document allows for police officers to enter and search the home or belongings of a person. Officers must apply for the warrant by completing an application and sending it to a judge for review. The application has to clearly state the probable cause. If the application has no mention or does not have sufficient information, the application must be denied. Furthermore, the officer must swear to the truth of the application. Once the application is approved, the officer is still legally bound to search for only the items designated on the warrant.

It is important to note that the Fourth Amendment does not prevent all searches, only unjust searches. Also, the amendment protects the rights of individuals under government care. Still, there are several caveats that enable a person to still be searched without a warrant.

General Exceptions

Any search conducted without a warrant is unlawful and unconstitutional in most circumstances. However, certain exceptions do come into play. These include when searches are performed during a valid arrest, automobile searches, border searches, government employee searches, and prison searches. The court also states that no warrant is required when the officer feels it is necessary to search a building in emergency situations. These exceptions would also include times when an officer believes it is imperative that they search an individual or building in order to eliminate a bigger threat and prevent others from being exposed to danger.

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