The Fourth Amendmet
March 21, 2011
Amendment Number IV
Amendment number IV was added to Constitution of the United States on December 15,
1791. This amendment gives the people of the United States protection from government agencies and other agencies from entering or searching their homes, and their own private property without a search warrant. Search warrants are obtained by a government official, in most cases a detective or police officers are the ones attempting to obtain these types of warrants.
For a warrant to be issued, a government official has to go before a judge and present him or her with substantial evidence or have probable cause that a crime has or is being committed. After the judge takes all of the evidence presented to him for the request of the search warrant and sees reason for probable cause; the warrant is then issued. The warrant has to be written for a specific reason; not just for anything. Warrants have to say exactly what the government officials are looking for and where they need to look. “In 1886, in a case called Boyd vs. United States, the Supreme Court of the United States referred to Entick vs. Carrington as a ''great judgment,''
''one of the landmarks of English liberty,'' and ''one of the permanent monuments of the British
Constitution". This established the Entick decision as a guide to understanding what the
Founding Fathers meant concerning search and seizure laws when they wrote the 4th
Amendment” (Revolutionary War and Beyond, 2010). At one time the 4th Amendment was only applied towards the United State federal
Government, but due to the clause in the fourteenth Amendment of the United States constitution, the Supreme Court enforces all of the parts of the Bill of rights to local as well as state governments. The 4th Amendment has some exceptions; the (revolutionary War and Beyond/4th amendment
2010) lists these exceptions, “The Plain View Doctrine - An officer may seize anything in plain view, that is, as long as
he has probable cause to believe it has been involved in a crime”.
“The Open Fields Doctrine - Warrants are not needed to search open fields or outdoor
areas, even on private property. The Court has ruled that it is not reasonable to expect privacy in
an open field. This does not include the area immediately around a private dwelling, which is
known as cartilage”.
“Exigent circumstances - This means that if the officer believes there is immediate danger to
his life or others, or to someone's private property, and he believes there is some emergency
where there is no intent to arrest or seize evidence, the warrant requirement is waived. An
example would be that he believes a suspect is hiding a gun under the couch on which he is
sitting and believes he might try to use it. In this case, the officer could search for and seize the
gun without a warrant”.
“Motor Vehicle Exception - The Supreme Court has ruled that vehicles do not have the
same protection as private dwellings. Vehicles may not be stopped randomly. There must be
probable cause to stop a vehicle. Items that are in plain view can be confiscated and other areas
of the vehicle can be searched if there is probable cause. Officers may not search the occupants
of the vehicle unless there is reasonable suspicion of a crime having been committed”.
“Searches incident to a lawful arrest - If a lawful arrest is made, an officer can search the
person and the area immediately around the person without obtaining a search warrant”. “Border search exception - Searches conducted at US borders or international airports can be
conducted randomly without reasonable suspicion of a crime having been committed.