Search Warrants | Criminal Law Essay


Search Warrants Introduction

In this paper, a senior federal agent is assigned the job of a training officer, who is responsible for providing and coordinating training for the agents and the police officers. My job is to assist the training officers in preparing the curriculum for a two week program which will include the topic related to search warrant, forth amendment, probable cause, rationale related to warrantless searches, etc. The important task is to give 30 officers the information related to the types of searches and search warrant.

 

Process by which a search warrant is sought and issued

In law, search warrant is a written order by an official of a court. The warrant gives an authorization to an officer to search a person in a specified place for specified objects and to confiscate them if found. Under the criminal code, a search warrant can be sought according to the constitution of the particular state. The objects required for warrant may be stolen goods or physical evidences of the commission of crime, e.g. narcotics, smuggling and black marketing.

The constitution of the United States provides a system of checks and balance among the legislative and judicial branches of government (The Fourth Amendment Warrant Requirement, 2008). The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and taking possession by legal process. It also states that a search warrant may be issued only on pledge or affirmation that a crime is most likely committed. According to the fourth amendment, it is mandatory to exclude trial evidence obtained in illegal searches for example those without a proper warrant (The Fourth Amendment Warrant Requirement, 2008).

 

Probable cause and the standard by which probable cause is met

The probable-cause deals with probabilities and depends on the totality of the circumstances. The standard by which a police officer has the right to make an arrest, conduct a personal or property search and to obtain a warrant for arrest can be defined as the probable cause (Probable Cause, 2008). It is also referred to the standard through which a grand jury believes that a crime has been committed. This term probable cause has come from the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Probable Cause, 2008). The Fourth Amendment requires that a search warrant may not be issued in the absence of probable cause, which is a minimal constitutional standard.

The precise meaning of probable cause and how it is met can be explained as:

  • The total information of what police have heard, known or observed as trained officers.

  • Probable cause will not lie down unless the facts supporting the warrant are asserted by the officer as true to the best of his or her knowledge (Probable Cause, 2008).

 

Types of searches that do not require a warrant

According to the Fourth Amendment, searches must be reasonable and specific. A few of the warrant-less searches are consent searches, searches incident to arrest, searches during an investigative detention, vehicle searches, administrative searches, vessel searches, border searches, and plain view searches(Criminal Justice, 2008).

 

Rationale for allowing warrantless searches

The officers have the right to search the passenger compartment and any open containers inside the vehicle. Officers do not need a search warrant to perform a limited search of a suspect, if police have a reasonable suspicion. Under the fourth amendment, the officers having probable cause for vehicle search can search the vehicle without a warrant (Criminal Justice, 2008). The search and seizure are made under the reasonable cause. For instance, if a police officer stops a vehicle to check the license plates and when he comes near to the vehicle, he founds the smell of alcohol or sees cans of beer or smells marijuana from the car. At this time, the police officer will have the probable cause to search the vehicle without a warrant (Criminal Justice, 2008).

The officers have the right to search in the case of plain-view doctrine (Criminal Justice, 2008). It can be understood with an example; if an officer goes to a doctor for assistance or medical help and during the process, he sees drugs; in this situation, he can legally forfeit him and make an arrest at the moment. The plain view doctrine applies under legal circumstances and in the places where the police officers have a valid right. All these searchers and reasons are persuasive and influential (Criminal Justice, 2008).

 

Searches that require probable cause

Yes, all the searches require probable cause. The important constitutional right means that police cannot arrest or make search without probable cause. For example, the police cannot come directly to the home unless they have a warrant or someone in apparent authority gives them consent or they see a crime occurring inside, or until and unless they chase someone (Korn, 2008). At such moments, there is no time to seek a warrant. If the police have a warrant, they can easily enter a home and the person in the home would cooperate, stay out of their way and will also obey their commands. In the same way, a landlord may not authorize the officers to search a tenant's premises without a search warrant or without the probable cause (Korn, 2008).

 

Conclusion

Thus, it is concluded that to obtain a search warrant, a police officer must first prove before judge that probable cause exists (Neubauer, 2004). The reason should be based upon direct information which is obtained by the officer's personal observation and by hearsay information. The search warrant must be specific and must include the specified object and place to be searched. The items that may require additional search events are rooms, outbuildings, persons, vehicles, etc. There are a few exceptions when the search warrants are not required, e.g. lawful arrest, reviews by customs or border officials, searches made with the consent of suspicious person and searches of items in plain view doctrine (Neubauer, 2004).



References

  • Criminal Justice (2008) Retrieved June 26, 2008 from https://mycampus.aiu-online.com/classroom/multimediacoursetext.aspx?classid=15301&t
  • Korn, L.M. (2008). Search and Seizure. Retrieved June 26, 2008 from http://www.lkorncriminaldefense.com/SearchSeizure.html
  • Neubauer, D.W. (2004). America's Courts and the Criminal Justice System. Published by Thomson Wadsworth Criminal courts/ United States
  • Probable Cause (2008). Retrieved June 26, 2008 from http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/315/315lect06.htm
  • The Fourth Amendment Warrant Requirement, (2008). Retrieved June 26, 2008 from http://criminal.findlaw.com/crimes/criminal_rights/your-rights-search-and-seizure/fourth-amendment-warrant-requirement.html