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Arrest, Search Warrants and Probable Cause

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 08:26 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 43.8 
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1. The United States Supreme Court has held that normally, a police seizure of either evidence of a crime in a constitutionally protected area or a possible criminal defendant must be based on probable cause (e.g., Illinois v. Gates (1983)). Furthermore, the Court has repeatedly stated that a government search or seizure on private premises without a warrant is presumptively unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment unless it falls within one of the \"carefully delineated\"( Welsh v. Wisconsin, (1984)) exceptions to the Fourth Amendment warrant clause. Strong policy interests in preventing possible abuse by government agents support the Court\'s insistence that government searches and seizures be preceded by the judicial scrutiny needed to procure a warrant.

The United States Supreme Court has expressed a \"preference\" that searches and seizures be supported by a judicial warrant based on probable cause and have held unconstitutional a variety of searches that were not supported by a warrant . Therefore, when a defendant in a third person’s garage is known to be injured or unarmed an officer should have search warrant authorizing search of a third person’s garage and a warrant to arrest a defendant.

On the other hand, the Court has approved a substantial number of searches on less than probable cause; namely, some on the basis of a reasonable suspicion   and others on no individualized suspicion whatsoever. In addition, the Court has recognized a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement, namely, exigent circumstances, hot pursuit, searches incident to an arrest, seizures of items in plain view, searches of vehicles, inventory searches, consent searches, border searches, searches on the high seas, and searches of heavily regulated businesses to assure compliance with government regulations that are designed to protect the public\'s health and safety.   Finally, the Court has ruled that when police are engaged in \"community caretaking...


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