Fourth Amendment

Essay by philip_iykeCollege, UndergraduateA, March 2011

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Fourth Amendment


The two basic clauses of the Fourth Amendment of the United States constitution provide that:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated

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.

(Levy 1995, p. 162)

The fourth amendment was adopted in response to the tendencies of police officers to abuse their search and seizure responsibilities during the colonial period. The enactment of the fourth amendment guarantees to every citizen "the security of privacy against arbitrary intrusion by the police" (Levy 1995, p.164)

In the case of Wolf v. Colorado, the Supreme Court recognized that "fourth amendment rights are basic to a free society and are therefore, implicit in the concept of ordered liberty."

(Article 1, § 7 of the Tennessee Constitution) It is thus evident that the fourth amendment is also enforceable against the states through the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment that also secures the rights of an individual to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

The are various interpretations of the clauses contained in the fourth amendment, but' reasonableness' tends to be the defining factor in the legitimacy of a search or seizure conducted by government and law enforcement officers.

There are some considerations associated with the reasonable expectation of privacy, although there is no bright line rule indicating situations in which an expectation of privacy is reasonable under the constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court has ruled that an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in any goods or property that is located inside the home of such an...