Legal Limitations on Police Investigation
The provisions of the Bill of Rights the belief that we don’t want to give govt officials absolute
power to pursue investigations and prosecutions, because that approach to crime control would
impose excessive costs on the values of individual liberty, privacy, and due process.
officers’ compliance with the law depends on their own knowledge and decisions as well as
those of their supervisors.
Search & Seizure Concepts
The Fourth Amendment prohibits police officers from undertaking “unreasonable searches and
The supreme court defines a search as an action by law enforcement officials that intrudes on
people’s reasonable expectation of privacy.
Search: Government officials’ examination of and hunt for evidence on a person or in a
place in a manner that intrudes on reasonable expectations of privacy
Reasonable expectation of privacy: The objective standard developed by courts for
determining whether a government intrusion into an individual’s person or property
constitutes a search because it interferes with the individual’s interests that are normally
protected from government examination
many situations raise questions about people’s reasonable expectations.
Although judges do not always answer questions about peoples reasonable expectations in clear,
consistent ways, peoples reasonable expectations about their privacy play a key role in judges
determinations about legal guidelines for police investigations
Coolidge v. New Hampshire (1971)
The court discussed the plain view doctrine, which permits officers to notice and use
evidence items that are visible to them when they are in a location where they are
permitted to be, such as public sidewalks.
Plain view doctrine: Officers may examine and use as evidence, without a
warrant, contraband or evidence that is in open view at a location where they
are legally permitted to be.
If u invite officers into your home & they find drugs, they don’t need a warrant
to seize the drugs.
If no search has occurred because of police actions, then the 4
do not apply, and police are free to take those actions
Florida v. Jardines (2013): the supreme court decided that bringing a drug-sniffing dog to the
front door of a house is, indeed, a search.
United States v. Jones (2012): decided that you need a warrant to use GPS on suspects
Seizures: Situations in which police officers use their authority to deprive people of their liberty
or property and that must not be “unreasonable” according to the Fourth Amendment.
Arrest is a form of seizure
Property can also be subject to seizure