Essay on The Fourth Amendment: Search Or Seizure?

The Fourth Amendment addresses the right of the person to be secure in their person, house, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, and warrants as they relate to probable cause (2012). Specifically, the procedural rights of the fourth amendment require law enforcement to follow guidelines regarding the search and seizure of persons and property and address the steps for illegally obtained evidence.

Searches, defined as the exploration or inspections of homes, offices, vehicles, persons or premises by law enforcement for the purpose of recovering evidence associated with the alleged commission of a crime (2012), can fall into one of two categories for execution. The first of these searches is the search and seizure with a warrant or possessing a written court order listing specific directives to law enforcement regarding the arrest of a person or seizure of property.

A requirement of the warrant is the existence of probable cause to issue the warrant. Additionally, the search warrant must be specific in nature identifying the location or person and identifying the items to be seized. Likewise, the warrant must be executed within a reasonable period of time, as with the federal government which provides only a 10-day window to execute a warrant once issued. The second type of search is the search and seizure without a warrant.

IN this instance, officers are excluded from entering a private residence to make a warrantless arrest unless extenuating circumstances exist. Extenuating circumstances for this purpose are considered as the potential destruction of evidence, and the hot pursuit of a felony suspect. Suspects arrested without a warrant are required to have the case presented to the judicial system within 48 hours to determine if there was probable cause for the arrest.

Probable cause as defined is “the amount of proof necessary for a reasonable person to believe that a crime has been committed or that items connected with a criminal activity can be found in a particular place” (2012). As with probable cause, a preponderance of evidence or sufficient evidence to overcome doubt or speculation” (2012), requires the prosecution to prove that the evidence acquired by constitutional violations would have been discovered through lawful means through a preponderance of the evidence.

Finally, the exclusionary rule excludes illegally seized evidence from federal trials. Originally enacted to protect individual’s rights from official misconduct and to maintain judicial integrity, its purpose is to deter the violation of the fourth Amendment rights by police (2012). The Fifth Amendment addresses the right to a grand jury indictment in a felony case. Regarding double jeopardy or subjection to the same offense twice in court proceedings when jeopardy is attached in the first and were no mistrial was declared (2012).

However, the prosecution is able to retry a defendant upon the deceleration of a mistrial or upon granting a new trial. Protection against compelled self-incrimination protects the defendant from being forced to testify against himself/herself. This is based on the concept that “… confessions may not be truthful if they are not made voluntarily (2012). A confession is defined as an admission of guilt by a person accused of committing a criminal offense.

Additionally, applying the doctrine of compelled self-incrimination, defendants have the right to refuse to answer the prosecution’s questioning while on the stand, opting to plead the fifth or opting to refusal to take the stand altogether. The sixth Amendment addresses the rights of all criminal prosecutions, speedy and public trials, an impartial jury of the state or district where the crime occurred, the right to be informed of accusations, confrontation of witnesses against him/her, obtaining witnesses on his/her favor, and the assistance of counsel for defense(2012).

Implemented to reduce the postponements of trials which may create unwarranted harm to a defendant’s case or require the defendant to spend prolonged time in jail awaiting trial (2012) the right to a speedy and public trial originally applying to federal court trials, however, was later extended to state trial courts in 1967. The right to an impartial jury for “defendants charged with a felonies or misdemeanors punishable by more than 6 months imprisonment are entitled to be tried before a jury” (2012).

It is the presumption that the jury will be unbiased and the trial will occur in the district for which the crime was committed as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Likewise, the right of reasonable notification of charges and trial are planted at the core of the due process model. As indicated in the right to confront opposing witnesses, “… the defendant has the right to be present during their trial and cross-examine witnesses against them” (2012).

Conversely, the defendant has the right to call witnesses or evidence on his behalf either voluntary or compelled by a court issued subpoena. Finally, a defendant’s right to counsel is predicated on the presumption that the charges posed against him/her may result in a prison term regardless of the severity or classification of the crime. Additionally, the expectation of effective and competent counsel is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.