Wednesday, September 5, 2007

This article is part of the series: United States Constitution
Articles of the Constitution IIIIIIIVVVIVII
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Amendment IV (the Fourth Amendment) to the United States Constitution is one of the provisions included in the Bill of Rights. The Amendment guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, and was originally designed as a response to the controversial writs of assistance (a type of general search warrant), which were a significant factor behind the American Revolution.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires that searches and seizures conducted under governmental authority be "reasonable". Toward that end, the amendment specifies that judicially sanctioned search and arrest warrants must be supported by probable cause and be limited in scope according to specific information supplied by a person (usually a peace officer) who has sworn by it and is therefore accountable to the issuing court.
The amendment applies only to governmental actors; it does not guarantee to people the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures conducted by private citizens or organizations. Hence, the amendment is not limited to protecting elements of privacy or personal autonomy, but rather applies pervasively to virtually all aspects of criminal law. Nevertheless, the amendment is not so broad as to replace other constitutional provisions, such as replacing the Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual" punishment with a more sweeping ban on "unreasonable" punishment.
The Fourth Amendment was needed because the writs of assistance had alarmed the country, and had inspired citizens to demand their rights. Congress recognized those demands, and so the Fourth Amendment stands today. But does the word "unreasonable" mean unreasonable according to the people of 1789, or according to people today, or according to judges, or according to juries? This question has not been definitively answered. However, to the extent that the Fourth Amendment is used for purposes of striking down statutes, the framers expected that the standard of review would be clear and irreconcilable variance with the Fourth Amendment.


Main article: exclusionary rule Exclusionary rule
As with most legal rules, there are a number of exceptions. In United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984), the Supreme Court applied the "good faith" rule and held that evidence seized by officers objectively and in good faith relying on a warrant later found to be defective was still admissible. The evidence would still be excluded if an officer dishonestly or recklessly prepares an affidavit forming the basis of the warrant, if the issuing magistrate abandons his neutrality, or if the warrant lacks sufficient particularity. The Leon case applies only to search warrants. It remains unclear whether the "good faith" exception applies to warrantless seizures in other contexts. On January 8, 1974, the Supreme Court ruled that grand juries may use allegedly illegally obtained evidence in questioning witnesses because, to hold otherwise, would interfere with grand jury independence and the place to contest the illegal search is after the accused is charged. United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338.
The Supreme Court has held the rule does not apply in certain situations: (1) probation or parole revocation hearings; (2) tax hearings; (3) deportation hearings; (4) when government officials illegally seize evidence outside the United States; (5) when a "private actor" (i.e., not a governmental employee) illegally seized the evidence; or (6) when the illegally seized evidence is used to impeach the defendant's testimony. Furthermore, a defendant has standing to object to the admission of unconstitutionally seized evidence only if such seizure violated his own Fourth Amendment rights; a defendant may not assert the rights of a third party. For example, a mere passenger in a car has standing to contest the stop of the car and a search of his person, but he usually lacks standing to contest a search of the car. If he is a passenger in his own car, however, he would have standing to challenge the search of the car.
Closely related to the exclusionary rule is the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine, under which the government is prohibited from introducing any evidence that was obtained subsequent to and as a result of the illegal search.
In any event, whether a search or seizure is "unreasonable", and therefore unconstitutional, can entail complex analysis of common law precedent and the facts of the case. Additionally, as searches and seizures are distinct activities, the constitutionality of a search is analyzed differently than a seizure.

Exceptions to the exclusionary rule
Not all actions by which governmental authorities obtain information from or about a person constitute a search. Therefore, government action triggers the amendment's protections only when the information or evidence at issue was obtained through a "search" within the meaning of the amendment. If no search occurs, no warrant is required. In general, authorities have searched when they impede upon a person's reasonable expectation of privacy.

Reasonable expectation of privacy
When police do conduct a search, the amendment requires them to have probable cause to believe that the search will uncover criminal activity or contraband. In other words, they must have legally sufficient reasons to believe a search is necessary. The Supreme Court has stated that probable cause to search is a flexible, common-sense standard. It merely requires that the facts available to the officer would 'warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief,'

Probable cause to search
However, in certain circumstances, authorities are permitted to conduct a search on a level of suspicion less than probable cause. In Terry v. Ohio, A vague hunch will not do.

"Terry Frisk"
The amendment proscribes unreasonable seizures of private property as well as persons. A seizure of property occurs when there is some meaningful interference by the police with an individual's possessory interests in that property,

Of course, when a person is arrested and taken into police custody, they have been seized (i.e., a reasonable person who is handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car would not think they were free to leave). A person subjected to a routine traffic stop on the other hand, has been seized, but is not "arrested" because traffic stops are a relatively brief encounter and are more analogous to a Terry stop (see below) than to a formal arrest.

As mentioned in the introduction, the Fourth Amendment does not apply to private citizens, so in the case of a citizen's arrest Fourth Amendment standards are not relevant. However, many states have passed laws that dictate the specific circumstances in which a private citizen may arrest another. Typically, a person can make a citizen's arrest when: (1) a misdemeanor amounting to a public nuisance is committed in the arresting citizen's presence; or (2) a felony has been committed, and the arresting citizen has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed it.

Citizen's arrest

Main article: Probable Cause Probable cause to arrest
Not all seizures of the person must be justified by the probable cause standard required for arrests. Certain seizures are justifiable under the Fourth Amendment if there is reasonable suspicion, supported by specific and articulable facts, that a person has committed or is about to commit a crime. In justifying the particular intrusion the police officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant the intrusion

Investigatory detentions, "Terry Stops"
Under the amendment, law enforcement must receive written permission from a court of law, or otherwise qualified magistrate, in order to lawfully search for and seize evidence while investigating criminal activity. A court grants permission by issuing a writ known as a warrant. A search or seizure is generally unreasonable, i.e., unconstitutional, if conducted without a valid warrant,

Warrant requirement
Courts have developed a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement:

Exceptions to the warrant requirement

Main article: Plain view doctrine Plain view doctrine

Main article: Open fields doctrine Open fields doctrine
While open fields are not protected by the Fourth Amendment, the curtilage, or outdoor area immediately surrounding the home, is. Courts have treated this area as an extension of the house and as such subject to all the privacy protections afforded a person's home (unlike a person's open fields) under the Fourth Amendment.
An area is curtilage if it "harbors the intimate activity associated with the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life."

Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution Distinguishing open fields from curtilage
There are also "exigent circumstances" exceptions to the warrant requirement-for instance, if an officer reasonably believes that a suspect may destroy evidence, he might be permitted to seize the evidence without a warrant. If an officer reasonably perceives an immediate deadly or physical threat to his life or the lives of others, the exigent circumstances exception applies.

Exigent circumstances

Main article: Motor vehicle exception Motor vehicle exception

Main article: Searches incident to a lawful arrest Searches incident to a lawful arrest
It has been held that searches in public schools require neither warrants nor probable cause. (See New Jersey v. T. L. O., 468 U.S. 325 (1985)). It is merely necessary that the searching officers have reasonable grounds for believing that the search will result in the finding of evidence of illegal activity.
Similarly, government offices may be searched for evidence of work-related misconduct by government employees on similar grounds. Searches of prison cells are subject to no restraints relating to reasonableness or probable cause; neither are searches conducted at the border (the "border search exception") (see United States v. Ramsey, 431 U.S. 606 (1977); United States v. Montoya de Hernandez, 473 U.S. 531 (1985); United States v. Flores-Montano, 541 U.S. __ (2004)) or searches undertaken as a condition of parole (see Samson v. California, 546 U.S. __ (2006).
Finally, a search is reasonable if the target without coercion consents to the search, even if the target is unaware and not told about their right to refuse to cooperate.

Miscellaneous exceptions
In the last decade courts have had to determine whether law enforcement officials can access evidence of illegal activity stored on digital technology without encroaching on a person's Fourth Amendment rights.

The Internet, computers, and privacy in relation to the Fourth Amendment
Many cases discuss whether a private employee (i.e., not a government employee) who stores incriminating evidence in workplace computers is protected by the Fourth Amendment's reasonable expectation of privacy standard in a criminal proceeding. However, these cases do not appear to produce a uniform and consistent standard of law.
Most case law holds that employees do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to their work related electronic communications. See, e.g. US v. Simons, 206 F.3d 392, 398 (4th Cir., Feb. 28, 2000).
However, one federal court held that employees can assert that the attorney-client privilege with respect to certain communications on company laptops. See Curto v. Medical World Comm., No. 03CV6327, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29387 (E.D.N.Y. May 15, 2006).
Another recent federal case discussed this topic. On January 30, 2007, the Ninth Circuit court in US v. Ziegler, reversed its earlier August 2006 decision upon a petition for rehearing. In contrast to the earlier decision, the Court acknowledged that an employee has a right to privacy in his workplace computer. However, the Court also found that an employer can consent to any illegal searches and seizures. See US v. Ziegler, ___F.3d 1077 (9th Cir. Jan. 30, 2007, No. 05-30177). [1] Cf. US v. Ziegler, 456 F.3d 1138 (9th Cir. 2006).
In Ziegler, an employee had accessed child pornography websites from his workplace. His employer noticed his activities, made copies of the hard drive, and gave the FBI the employee's computer. At his criminal trial, Ziegler filed a motion to suppress the evidence because he argued that the government violated his Fourth Amendment rights.
The Ninth Circuit allowed the lower court to admit the child pornography evidence. After reviewing relevant Supreme Court opinions on a reasonable expectation of privacy, the Court acknowledged that Ziegler had a reasonable expectation of privacy at his office and on his computer. That Court also found that his employer could consent to a government search of the computer, and that did not violate Ziegler's Fourth Amendment rights.
A New Jersey appellate court has also issued an opinion on the privacy rights of computer users. That court held that computer users can expect that the personal information they give their internet service providers are considered private. State v. Reid 2007 N.J. Super. LEXIS 11 (January 22, 2007). [2].
In that case, prosecutors asserted that Shirley Reid broke into her employer's computer system and changed its shipping address and password for suppliers. The police discovered her identity after getting a subpoena to the internet provider, Comcast Internet Service.
The lower court suppressed information from the internet service provider that linked Reid with the crime. The New Jersey appellate court agreed with this decision. Although this case does not directly discuss the Fourth amendment, it illustrates that some states are providing more privacy protection to computer users than the federal courts. It also illustrates that caselaw on privacy in workplace computers is still evolving.

Exclusionary Rule
Probable Cause
Search Warrants
Arrest and Search of a Person Without a Warrant
Search of and Seizure from a Residence Without a Warrant
Search and Seizure of Vehicles and Containers Without a Warrant
Stop and Frisk

Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383 (1914)
Wolf v. Colorado (1949)
Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961)
United States v. Leon (1984)
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole v. Scott (1998)
Olmstead v. United States (1928)
Katz v. United States (1967)
Zurcher v. Stanford Daily (1978)
United States v. Karo (1984)
California v. Greenwood (1988)
Florida v. Riley (1989)
Kyllo v. United States (2001)
United States v. White (2003)
Hudson v. Michigan (2006)
Spinelli v. United States (1969)
Illinois v. Gates (1983)
Franks v. Delaware (1979)
Maryland v. Garrison (1987)
Richards v. Wisconsin (1997)
Groh v. Ramirez (2004)
United States v. Watson (1976)
United States v. Robinson (1973)
Whren v. United States (1996)
Atwater v. City of Lago Vista (2001)
Tennessee v. Garner (1985)
Chimel v. California (1969)
Vale v. Louisiana (1970)
Payton v. New York (1980)
Steagald v. United States (1981)
Illinois v. McArthur (2001)
South Dakota v. Opperman (1976)
United States v. Chadwick (1977)
Arkansas v. Sanders (1979)
New York v. Belton (1981)
United States v. Ross (1982)
California v. Carney (1985)
Colorado v. Bertine (1987)
California v. Acevedo (1991)
Knowles v. Iowa, 525 U.S. 113 (1998)
Wyoming v. Houghton (1999)
Terry v. Ohio (1968)
Florida v. Royer (1983)
Michigan v. Long (1983)
United States v. Place (1983)
Florida v. J.L. (2000)
Illinois v. Wardlow (2000)
United States v. Drayton (2002)
Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada (2004)

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