The Fourth Amendment of the United States protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures from government entities.
Please cite a case on one of the following areas: use of force, evidence collection, arresting power, or probable cause. Provide a brief synopsis of the case. Do you agree with the disposition of the case? Why or why not?
What constitutes unreasonable searches and seizures? Do police have the power to arrest unlawful behavior without probable cause?
ANSWER AND THEN REPLY TO MY CLASSMATE’S RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE QUESTIONS AND EXPLAIN WHY YOU AGREE? (A MINIMUM OF 125 WORDS or MORE EACH QUESTION)
The Fourth Amendment is a constitutional doctrine that guarantees privacy to suspects regarding search and seizure of property in prosecutorial contexts in the pursuit of justice. Its establishment and application protect citizens from harassment by a powerful government. The collection and presentation of evidence in the pursuit of truth should be done lawfully and procedurally in accordance with stipulated provisions that fundamentally anchor on probable cause as a precursor for the issuance of a search warrant in ensuring admissibility of the collected evidence. The case of Weeks v. the United States in 1914 illustrates the essentiality of adherence to the provisions of the Fourth Amendment in the search and presentation of evidence.
Fermont Weeks was suspected of transporting lottery tickets through mail, which was an offence against the criminal code. Kansas City officers conducted a search at his place of work and extended the same at his house without a search warrant (Weeks v. the United States, 1914). Using a spare key, the opened his house and collected documents which they handed to US marshals who conducted further searches. The evidence collected was presented in court for his prosecution. His attorney urged the court to return the collected documents based on the submission regarding the violations against the Fourth Amendment, but it declined and proceeded to use them. With the evidence linking Weeks to the charge, the court convicted Weeks, but his attorney appealed.
In the petition, the attorney argued the critical importance of the Fourth Amendment on searches and seizures against which citizens are protected. In a unanimous decision, the Court overturned the district court’s decision with reference to violations of the Fourth Amendment. In the determination, the court held that the seizure and presentation s evidence private citizens’ documents meant that the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment were of no value. Also, the refusal to return the documents as petitioned violated the law.
I agree with the disposition of the case based on the facts as herein presented. The facts surrounding the case are open as viewed from the perspective of the Fourth Amendment. As described and as argued by the appellate court and the attorney, the Fourth Amendments protects citizens from unreasonable searches that are especially conducted without a search warrant (Dharmapala & Miceli, 2012). In the absence of a warrant, the admissibility of the evidence collected becomes impossible within the frameworks of the law. The fact that the search officers in Kansas did not have a search warrant authorizing the search violated Weeks’ rights under the Fourth Amendment. Moreover, the fact that he was also no present during the search compounded the violation.
The actions of search of search officers during the search violate the Fourth Amendment if they are unreasonable as determined by the analysis of two gravitational components. First, there must be a probable cause that a crime has been committed. In this case, a police officer should objectively determine that the suspect under consideration has indeed committed a crime under the circumstances (Find Law, 2019). Probable cause serves as a prelude to the issuance of a search warrant. Secondly, police officers should be issued with a warrant that authorizes them to search and seize one’s property in the pursuit of justice. The absence of any of these elements as provided for by the Fourth Amendment constitutes unreasonable searches.
Since the law, as analyzed above, define unreasonable searches as those that violate the above two principles, it can be extrapolated to the context of arrests without probable cause. A police officer can, therefore, only effect an arrest if he has probable cause that the person in question exhibits criminal behavior. In the absence of probable cause, the arrest becomes an illegal arrest.
Dharmapala, D. & Miceli, T. (2012). Search, seizure and (false?) arrest: An analysis of fourth amendment remedies when police can plant evidence. In M., Baker & T. Miceli (Eds.), Research handbook on economic models of law, Edward Elgar Publishing, Illinois
Find Law (2019). When is an arrest a legal arrest? Obtained from https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/when-is-an-arrest-a-legal-arrest.html
Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383 (1914)