Tuesday, September 20, 2005

4th Amendment

The Supreme Court’s 4th Amendment jurisprudence is completely retarded and confusing. You don’t need a warrant to search a person when you arrest them, but if you find a pack of cigarettes on him you can’t look in it without a warrant. You don’t even need to arrest a guy before you can search his entire car after he violates a traffic law, but if you find a bag in it then you have to get a warrant. You can take the bag until you get a warrant, though (wouldn’t it be easier on the person if you just searched him and let him be on his way/arrest him?). If you arrest a guy in his house, you can search his immediate vicinity for any weapons or contraband. You can even do a protective sweep of the house to look for people. But you can’t search the rest of the house, even with probable cause. You can look at a TV in plain view, but you can’t read the serial number on the back. If you arrest someone in their house, then you can “secure” the building until a warrant can be obtained, even if that may take 19 hours. Isn’t this an even bigger intrusion on privacy than searching the damn place, especially when you just arrested the guy? If a guy violates any traffic law, then you can pull him over and look around. Even if you have a warrant, it might be no good just because you filled in the wrong blank on it.

You know what, I have no idea if any of that is absolutely correct.

And the only remedy for 4th Amendment violations is exclusion of illegally obtained evidence. So only criminals benefit from it. They justify this on the grounds that it encourages police to obey the Amendment, but at what cost? And what can regular people do about it when their 4th Amendment rights are violated? Absolutely nothing.

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