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What You Need To Know About Search and Seizure

Search And Seizure

"Search and seizure," that which is defined as the examination and investigation of material assets of a person in order to garner causes for illegality, takes its origins from the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Under the Constitution, unreasonable search and seizure is unlawful. In pursuit of such a belief, the Constitution sets forth that search and seizure be accompanied by arrest warrants that are both sanctioned by a court, as well as supported by "probable cause". This term may be explained as the belief within reason that a crime has occurred.

Although the Fourth Amendment does apply to that of search and seizure headed by the Government, those done by private individuals or other parties separate from the Government do not fall under its specifications, and therefore, may not be protected by it. However, State governments have attained coverage according to the Fourth Amendment, by way of the case of Mapp v. Ohio. A "Due Process Clause" was the result of this specific Supreme Court case.


In order to adequately ascertain what unreasonable search and seizure entails, we must first break down both terms that comprise this type of action. "Search" was highlighted in the Supreme Court case of Katz v. United States, where the Court ruled that two qualifications must exist in order for it to be an applicable term. These include that an individual assumes their privacy when concerning that which may have been searched for, and that society, as a whole, maintains the belief in the reasonable nature of such an expectation.

In the aforementioned Supreme Court case, these specifications existed, and therefore, the Court ruled that a search had occurred. Scrutiny of this term's qualifications is important because if they are found absent, individuals will not be able to take the shelter of the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, they will have no case, even if they are overtaken by the encroachment of officers not possessing warrants. Seizure is, then, the taking of any items in connection to an individual.

Now that we have acquired a specific understanding of such terms, we may turn to a description of what unreasonable search and seizure entails. Such an action may be depicted as the search of an individual’s dwelling or other areas related to them, as well as the seizure of any of their items without the production of a warrant and also without that of appropriate probable cause.

One area of interest that concerns such an unconstitutional act as unreasonable search and seizure is that of the growing drug war. Often, in an effort to crack down on such illegal drug transactions, law enforcement conducts numerous acts of search and seizure, some of which may actually be illegal and unconstitutional. In addition, cases of racial profiling also take advantage of the Fourth Amendment, as individual ethnic background may be used as a means for unreasonable search and seizure.

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