Basics of search and seizure law
Anyone interested in search and seizure law in the United States is advised to read carefully the Bill of Rights, especially the Fourth Amendment. Through the doctrine of Incorporation, this Amendment ( and others) applies to the states. The Amendment reads:" 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 and affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The language is clear on its face. It is the application that is difficult. Law schools have full semester courses on search and seizure law. The courses are difficult and require a close reading of case law, usually United States Supreme Court cases. Criminal Justice students, especially those who wish to become police officers need to know how to legally apply the Fourth Amendment. They also should be familiar with their state law, as in some cases states provide more protection with regard to searches and seizures. The video included in this Libguide illustrates this point. One should ask questions like: what is probable cause? , what is a search? what is a seizure? what is reasonable suspicion? what consititutes an arrest? when is it necessary to have a warrant? when do exceptions apply and what are they?- these questions need to be discussed. Police officers often have to act quickly and under duress. Any evidence found ( and it often is) may be excluded from trial if obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment or the long line of cases that over the years have construed the Amendment. This Libguide can only cover the basic points. PCCC Library has very good books on the subject and there are excellent websites ( at least one is over 30 pages long) that provide instruction and references to cases.
PCCC books can be found under the call number KF 9630 One book, for which there is no picture of the cover, is "Search and Seizure: The Fourth Amendment for Law Enforcement Officers" by Robert Henley KF 9630 .W66 2006. This is an excellent book that explains the Amendment in clear language. It is written for law enforcement officers. Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 7 are especially good. Another book ( designed for law students, but still helpful) is under call number KF 9619.A727 2013 ( picture of cover is included in this Guide)