A Living Amendment: The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution

A Living Amendment: The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution

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A Living Amendment
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is the most essential Amendment of all for employees working in the criminal justice field. This Amendment sets the foundation for the criminal justice system and implements mandatory guidelines for governmental employees. When the Constitution was originally created, its sole intent was to place limitations and restrictions on the federal government. The Constitution, as a living document has changed over the years and has continually been interpreted to keep up with America’s ever growing diversity and use of technology.
The Fourth Amendment Complete in Itself
The Fourth Amendment like most everything else in the Constitution has grown through case law. These cases set forth new ruling and implement new boundaries for professionals in the courts, criminal justice fields and any person operating under the authority of or in lieu of the United States government. "The Fourth Amendment requires that all search or arrest warrants be based on probable cause as stated by (Hess & Orthman," 2012 pp. 196). The Fourth Amendment works in the area of search and seizure of evidence but when an individual is seized for the purposes of an investigatory stop this too falls under the Fourth Amendments shadow ("Hess & Orthman," 2012).
Investigative Stops
Investigative stops, known as Terry Stops have been found to fall under the reach of the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, investigatory stops require reasonableness. What is reasonable has been considered as articulated facts that make an officer believe that someone has committed, is committing or is going to commit a crime. ("Florida Basic Recruit" 2010). When the government oversteps its boundaries there are numerous rules and doctrines in place to protect citizens from having their rights infringed upon; some differences in protection is offered to governmental employees who are acting within the scope of their duties. Examples of these are known as the Exclusionary Rule and the Good Faith Doctrine.
The Rule and Good Faith
The Exclusionary Rule forbids any evidence obtained illegally to be admissible in a court of law. The Supreme Court ruled in Burdeau v. McDowell that unconstitutional searches and seizures are to limit the federal government only. Before the days of Mapp v. Ohio evidence found at the state levels was usually not admissible in federal court and vice versa. Mapp v. Ohio allowed the states to adopt the Exclusionary Rule, making evidence interchangeable between state and federal levels. One could believe that with more areas being covered in this ruling now comes more possibility for liability.

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As stated in ("Florida Criminal Justice Sourcebook," 2010) "the Good Faith Doctrine is an exception to the Exclusionary Rule." This doctrine holds that if an officer executes a warrant in good faith that the document is valid but is later found to have legal error the evidence will be admissible in the court of law. However, the Good Faith Exception is not valid through police error but if the mistake was made by an employee of the court, evidence found will be admissible.
In Closing
The Fourth Amendment is paramount to the criminal justice system and citizens alike. Through the years the Fourth Amendment has grown with Americas expansion of technology and diversity. The Fourth Amendment secures citizens daily lives against illegal search and seizure while setting the foundation and guidelines of which government agents and law enforcement alike can act on. The Exclusionary Rule deters governmental employees from violating an individuals Fourth Amendment rights but the Good Faith Exception secures government agents who are acting within the scope of their duties from civil and criminal liability.



Works Cited

Harr, J., Hess. & Orthmann, C. (2012). Constitutional law and the criminal justice system. (pp. 196,234 ). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
(2011). Florida basic recruit : Training program law enforcement. (Vol. 1, pp. 38-39). Acton, Massachusetts: Copley Custom Textbooks.
(2010). Florida criminal justice sourcebook : includes cases, elements, defenses, and legal guidelines. (pp. LG-40 ). Charlottesville, Va: LexisNexis.
Burdeau v. McDowell, 256 U.S. 465 (1921)
Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961)

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