HGov: Fourth Amendment Case Study


fourth-amendment

The Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” This means that law enforcement officials may not search a person’s home or property without prior consent or a legal order. A warrant must be based on probable cause, or reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior. It must also be very specific in describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

The case of Katz v. United  States hinged on recordings of a suspect’s conversation made from a public phone booth. Because the recording device was placed outside the booth and recorded only the suspect’s voice, the police believed they did not need a warrant. The Court disagreed and concluded that a warrant was required because the suspect had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in a phone booth.

In the case of Terry v. Ohio, three men’s behavior caused a police officer to suspect that they were about to rob a store. After questioning the men, the officer frisked them by patting down the outside of their clothing. Two of the suspects had guns, and they were later convicted for carrying concealed weapons. The men appealed their conviction claiming that the officer did not have probable cause to frisk them. The Court decided that the officer’s observations provided adequate cause for the search. His actions and suspicions were reasonable given the behavior of the suspects.


Homework:
1) Read Chapter 14 pp.445-474
2) Read Chapter 15 pp.481-511

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