Week 4 -Assignment 1: Search and Seizure.
Assignment 1: Search and Seizure
Due Week 4 and worth 240 points
Review the FindLaw database and identify a case concerning the 4th Amendment. It may also be helpful to research the Strayer Online Library for this assignment.Week 4 -Assignment 1: Search and Seizure.
Complete a four to five (4-5) page legal memorandum in which you:
Include a brief summary of the case.
Explain the court’s decision, including whether there has been a violation of the plaintiff’s 4th Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure by the government.
Summarize the court’s opinion.
Summarize any dissenting opinion.
Use at least two (2) quality resources in this assignment. Note: Wikipedia and similar Websites do not qualify as quality resources.
Your assignment must follow these formatting requirements:
Be typed, double spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references must follow APA or school-specific format. Check with your professor for any additional instructions.Week 4 -Assignment 1: Search and Seizure.
Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the student’s name, the professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required assignment page length.
The specific course learning outcomes associated with this assignment are:
Explain the differences and commonalities between civil and criminal law and procedures.
Use technology and information resources to research issues related to civil and criminal procedures.
Write clearly and concisely about issues in law and the legal system using proper writing mechanics.
California v. Acevedo, 500 U.S. 565, 603 (1991), was a case in which the US Supreme Court interpreted the 4th amendment rights as concerns moving car searches and seizure. In this case, Acevedo had been spotted by surveillance police officers carrying a package into the house that they had been monitoring before leaving with a bag. He placed the bag in the trunk of his truck and drove off. Given that the police had been monitoring the house from which the bag was collected, they believed that they had probable cause to recover the bag and check its contents on the suspicion that it contained illegal contraband. They went on to recover the bag from the trunk Acevedo’s truck as he was driving and found marijuana in the bag. The case was brought before a California court where Acevedo mounted the defense that the marijuana was inadmissible as evidence since the search had violated his 4th amendment rights. He noted that he had a legitimate expectation of privacy for his car and bag as private property, and the 4th amendment protected this right. As such, any evidence collected during search searches would be considered unlawfully seized and inadmissible in court since it violated his 4th amendment rights.Week 4 -Assignment 1: Search and Seizure. The court made the determination that although the search was conducted without a warrant, it was justified by probable course. The case was then referred to the Court of Appeals where the lower court’s ruling was reversed and the determination was made that any evidence collected from the truck should have been suppressed since the search was conducted without a warrant. Following this determination, California State petitioned the Supreme Court to make a determination on the admissibility of the evidence collected from the search(Findlaw, n.d.).
The case details presented before the Supreme Court were that prior to obtaining a search warrant, the police had observed the defendant walking into a house under surveillance while carrying a package and leaving shortly later with a bag that he placed in the trunk of his truck before driving off. The police decided to pull the defendant over and conduct a warrantless search since they had probable cause and feared that the bag contents would be ruined or hidden if they delayed the search. The search was conducted and marijuana found in the bag, following which the defendant pled guilty to drug possession charges. The Court of Appeals in California later heard the case and determined that the marijuana was inadmissible as evidence since the search was conducted without a warrant. It was distinct in noting that although the seizure was legal, the search was illegal.Week 4 -Assignment 1: Search and Seizure. That is because moving property can be seized to avoid the loss of evidence thereby addressing the urgency. But a warrantless search is not justified since urgency is no longer an issue once the container has been seized. The case was presented before the Supreme Court to make a determination on whether conducting a warrantless search on a car in the presence of probable course was in violation of the defendant’s 4th amendment rights. The issue in question was whether the police need a warrant to search a moving container if they have probable course that there is illegal contraband in the container (Findlaw, n.d.).Week 4 -Assignment 1: Search and Seizure.
The Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision, ruling that the marijuana collected from a warrantless search can be admitted as evidence since the police had probable cause(Findlaw, n.d.).
Summary of the court’s opinion
The Supreme Court argued that conducting a warrantless search on a car when there is probable cause that the car contains contraband is not a violation of the 4th amendment. The court further explained that the warrantless search is justified by time constraints since the contraband can be ruined or hidden subsequent to the search. It further added that both privacy expectations and exigent circumstances in searching the car are the same and warrant equal treatment regardless of the status. Besides that, it indicated that having separate rules to govern warrantless searches of cars and containers inside the car would only cause confusion. The court also specified that if the police lack a search warrant but have probable cause, then their search should only be restricted to the specific suspected container that holds the illegal contraband, is in transit and could be ruined or hidden. This implies that the warrantless search cannot be extended to the whole car unless there is probable cause that the car could be holding illegal contraband. Given these arguments, the court concluded that the search of the bag in the car had been constitutional and had not been in violation of the defendant’s 4th amendment rights since the police had probable cause that the bag contained illegal contraband(Findlaw, n.d.).Week 4 -Assignment 1: Search and Seizure.
Justice Scalia presented the concurring opinion for the Supreme Court, mentioning that the search had been constitutional and was reasonable. That is because the 4th amendment allows for a warrantless search to be conducted by the police if they have probable cause. The 4th amendment clearly notes that the protections offered are voided if the belief of criminal activity rises to the level of probable cause that a crime is being committed or has been committed and the evidence could be lost or ruined if time is taken to obtain a search warrant. As such, the 4th amendment established the search as reasonable(Findlaw, n.d.).
Given the Supreme Court’s decision, a precedent was set that in the absence of a warrant, the police can search the moving container suspected of holding illegal contraband without violating a suspect’s 4th amendment rights. It stressed that the container must be moving and present opportunities for the illegal contraband to be ruined or hidden for the search to proceed without a warrant. The implication is that a warrantless search cannot be on a stationary container since there are no opportunities for the illegal contraband to be ruined or hidden. In such cases where the vehicle is stationary, conducting a warrantless search even when there is probable cause would be in violation of the suspect’s 4th amendment rights(Findlaw, n.d.).Week 4 -Assignment 1: Search and Seizure.
Summary of dissenting opinion
Justice Stevens presented the dissenting opinion for the Supreme Court, arguing that the search had been unconstitutional and in violation of the defendant’s 4th amendment rights. He argued that the Supreme Court’s ruling was incorrect since it had failed to identify any exigent circumstances that merited legalizing warrantless searches as a new rule that clearly contradicts the 4th amendment’s protection of the defendant’s personal items (car and bag) for which he had a legitimate expectation of privacy. He further noted that the court was presumptuous in justifying its argument that the current laws encumber police officers from fulfilling their functions while failing to protect significant privacy interests (Findlaw, n.d.).Week 4 -Assignment 1: Search and Seizure.