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Warrants and Warrantless Searches

Criminal Law and Constitutional Rights of Defendants

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals against unreasonable searches and the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that warrantless searches, even if probable cause is present, are per se, unreasonable. This was the finding in the case of Katz v. United States (1967) (Hall, 1992). Exceptions are made when it is impractical for law enforcement officers to procure a warrant or when there is explicit or implied consent to the search. Warrants may further not be required when facts and circumstances preclude any reasonable expectation of privacy.

Hall (1992) identified other exceptions to the strict letter of the warrant rule, such as searches incident to a lawful arrest or required to ensure safety; inspections by customs, border, and airport officials; searches made with the consent of a suspect; searches of items that are in plain view; and searches of students' belongings. In the case of Vringar v. United States (1949), the Supreme Court held that the same probable cause standard applies to all searches, under warrant or not. New technologies as well as new government powers for search and seizures authorized in the USA PATRIOT Act have significantly expanded the ability of law enforcement officials to conduct searches without a specific warrant (Conklin, 2010).

The concept of due process derives from the Magna

Carta and has been enshrined in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (Hall, 1992). The Fifth Amendment specifically requires that the federal government not deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The same language is included in the Fourteenth Amendment to act as a constraint on the individual states.

The central goal of due process doctrine is to ensure fair procedure will occur when the government imposes a burden on an individual. The doctrine of due proce...

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Warrants and Warrantless Searches. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 00:33, June 21, 2024, from