Search and Seizure
Police and law enforcers use the search and seizure in pursuit of criminals in order to obtain evidence required in their prosecution. Search and seizure can be conducted upon a reasonable belief that information or items on premises can be used in committing a criminal offense. Although police can search premises and seize items, the law protects citizens against unreasonable police intrusions. Criminal law defines a search as an intrusion with an intention other than arrest. The United States Supreme Court defined search as any government invasion of personal privacy (Basdeo, 2009). Although the constitution grants people their right to privacy, the fourth amendment does not guarantee people privacy against all invasions. A search can be conducted based on realistic expectations in order to obtain information either by observation or investigation (Basdeo, 2009). A search that invades privacy must be conducted using a warrant with clearly defined rules.
Seizure implies deprivation of liberty over private property or persons through physically taking possession of personal property. Police can use legal authority or physical power limiting the individual’s liberty to flee or leave. Individuals can be compelled to produce documents or give up an item. Police seize items to use as evidence in court or simply take them permanently from holders. Law enforcers can temporarily detain a person for short periods of time as defined by their jurisdiction or permanently hold material evidence for use as evidence during prosecution. Search and seizure can be used independently so a search can occur without seizure and vice versa. Seizure just like searches require one to come with well defined warrants but where probable and reasonable cause exist, a warrant does not apply.
The fourth amendment provides for the arrest of persons by law enforcement officials. An arrest implies taking persons against their will for questioning or in order to prosecute them. An arrest occurs upon enough evidence that indicates that someone has conducted an illegal activity or has intentions of committing a crime. According to Bloom (2004), the police must obtain a warrant of arrest unless they have probable cause indicating the existence of a crime or a threat which cannot allow time to get a warrant. Arresting someone in this case will deny them the ability to continue conducting illegal activities. Upon arrest, the arresting officer should read the person the Miranda rights.
Reasonableness under criminal justice system requires law enforcers to prove articulate suspicion to warrant a search, seizure or an arrest. Reasonable causes under the fourth amendment provide the basis for a search warrant which proves a connection to a crime or the criminal. Therefore, an officer seeking to conduct an arrest or a search should have sufficient facts or a reasonable suspicion of a criminal activity. Using sufficient knowledge of a crime or a threat, officers can apply under oath for a proper warrant to search, seize and arrest suspects (Bloom, 2004).
Individuals also enjoy the privacy of communication, home life and unlawful entry based on reasonable expectations as stipulated in the fourth amendment. The constitution guarantees the right not to have personal property searched and right of no entry. This privacy can be limited under general limitation law. It can also be suspended under reasonable and justifiable reasons. In case of reasonable cause supported by oath, this privacy expectation can be violated, and a search and seizure can occur. Reasonable cause allows for a search, seizure or an arrest through a warrant, and this affects personal privacy as guaranteed under the fourth amendment. A warrant allows search of homes, property, seizure and excommunication through arrests. However, there exist exclusions in this warrant rule as indicated herein.
Seizure allows officers to restrict individuals from walking away from a stop. If a reasonable justification exists, a police can stop and frisk and individual for weapons or narcotics based on suspicious movements or objects. Stop and frisk occur along roadside stops or luggage checkpoints. Stop and risk violate privacy expectation and require no warrant or probable cause to make an arrest. In this situation, the police seek to protect themselves and those nearby (Basdeo, 2009). However, the police can request personal approval to conduct a frisk.
Another exception involves automobile stops and search based on reasonable suspicion of registration violation as police aim at making many arrest get the rewards (Johnson, 2009). . Moving vehicles enjoy diminished privacy since upon probable cause the vehicle is stopped and searched. In this case, a warrant cannot be easily obtained, so it is not a requirement. Search on automobiles upon exceptional justification may extend to closed trunks. Travelers can have their luggage detained at airports when officers look for narcotics. Upon beliefs that luggage contains illegal material or suspicion of terrorism, an officer can seize the luggage and detain individuals (Bloom, 2013). The procedure of search can lead to unlimited disclosure of personal belongings violating the traveler’s privacy. Detention of travelers can occur at the border under reasonable terms. In conclusion, criminal procedures have provided rules for the police to search seize and apprehend criminals with a goal of safeguarding the privacy anticipation of its citizens. Warrantless search and seizure occur under reasonable cases, but the constitution identifies with the need for legitimate law enforcement procedures.
Basdeo, V. (2009). A constitutional perspective of police powers of search and seizure in the criminal justice system. Master of Law Dissertation. University of South Africa, SA.
Bloom, R.M. (2013). Cases on Criminal Procedure 2013-2014. Wolters Kluwer.
Bloom, R. M. (2004). Searches, Seizures and Warrants. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
Johnson, R. R. (2009). Explaining patrol officer’s drug arrest activities through an expectancy theory. Policing: An international journal of police strategies and management. 32 (1)