Erosion of Search and Seizure,the Fourth Amendment is Melting in Oklahoma

In the best of all possible worlds, the Fourth Amendment would be interpreted by the U.S. Supreme court much like the court interprets the First Amendment.  However, I have found that most of the time, the courts pay some attention to the Fourth Amendment Rights of the accused, but seek to find exceptions to the rule of law.

The people of the United States have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, however, the government and their agencies forever, push the envelope of what is and is not reasonable.

Quoting the U.S. Constitution:  “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The exceptions and excuses for not implementing those simple words would fill a library.  Reasonable standards have been interpreted by the courts to mean those standards which make sense taking into consideration the culture, history and exact time in history when the courts decide the issue of reasonableness.  Thus, warrantless searches are very popular with the police because the courts have decided that if an exception to the warrant requirement exists, then the police may search without a warrant.  For example here are a few of the exceptions to the requirement that a warrant must be in hand before the police may search:

  1. Exigent circumstances
  2. Stop and frisk
  3. Search incident to arrest
  4. Custodial
  5. Plain view
  6. Vehicle
  7. Border
  1. Open fields
  2. Abandoned property
  3. Consent
  4. Administrative
  5. Probation search
  6. Protective sweep

If any of these factual circumstances exist or may be argued to exist at the time of the detention (arrest), then the poor soul’s person, his home, business, computers, car, or vehicle  may be searched without the police obtaining a warrant.

Remember: What the U.S. Constitution says about a warrant?  See: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” 

Compare the simplicity and elegance of the prohibition against the government engaging in an unreasonable search and seizure to the vast body of law on behalf of the government engaging in warrantless searches, which by their very nature are unreasonable.  With every new exception added to the body of law allowing warrantless searches, the body of man loses freedom from the very rights he/she was born with.

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