Fourth Amendment Essay

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THE FOURTH AMMENDMENT The Fourth Amendment, protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. It is the basis for the establishment of an individual's right to privacy. It does not prohibit searches and seizures. It instead prevents those that would be unreasonable. In order to be lawful, a warrant must be judicially sanctioned. Probable cause must be attested to in the acquisition of a warrant to perform the search and/or seizure. And, the warrant must be limited in scope in accordance with the supporting evidence provided in the attestation. The Fourth Amendment is only applicable to government actors and criminal law. The intent of the Fourth Amendment was to create a constitutional buffer between the people and the intimidating power of the government. There are three components of the Fourth Amendment. First, it establishes the privacy aspect by recognizing that U.S. Citizens have a right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects.” This privacy interest is protected by prohibiting any searches and seizures that are “unreasonable” or have not been authorized by a warrant that is based upon probable cause. And, “the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” must be described with particularity before it is issued to a law enforcement officer. The Fourth Amendment was drafted because of British officials' discretion in collection of taxes for the Crown was often going unchecked. Simple suspicion by the tax collectors or informants compelled magistrates to issue general warrants. There was no lawful requirement of the magistrates to question the British officials as to the source of their suspicion. The general warrants allowed for the blanket house to house... ... middle of paper ... and the widely differing court decisions creates a difficult situation to protect society from those that seek to do us great harm, as individuals and as a nation, while at the same time applying the fundamental principles of freedom from oppression and tyranny that the framers of the Constitution had envisioned in their drafting of it. Ultimately it comes to the determination of that which is considered to be “reasonable”. Some will assert that it is reasonable to relinquish some degree of our liberty to ensure safety. We must surely be cautious as to how we reveal the criminals amongst us. But they must be revealed. And the criminal will continue to endeavor to undermine those attempts to be revealed and apprehended through the utilization of emerging technologies. The very same technologies that are utilized lawfully by society. Therein lies the conundrum.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that probable cause is the weighing of probabilities and doesn't deal with hard certainties. probable cause exists when known facts and circumstances warrant prudence.
  • Explains that reasonable suspicion is a standard which is less than probable cause, but one that is sufficient to authorize an investigation detention.
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