By Sherri Stewart
The constitution’s Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” This amendment protects the person from a police officer’s search of a car, residence, and a person’s body without a search warrant based on probable cause or a person’s consent. If the police violate this amendment, any evidence they collect will be inadmissible in court as “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.”
In Mapp v. Ohio, the police appeared at Mapp’s door and handed her a warrant to search for evidence of illegal gambling. When she tried to read the warrant, the officer snatched it from her hands and held her against her will while they searched her house. They found no evidence of gambling, but they found pornography and confiscated it. When the case went to trial, all evidence was inadmissible in court because it had been illegally taken. Warrants must be specific about the object searched for, the location of the object, and a specific time period. Anything else found, as was the case in Mapp, is inadmissible in court. The police can also search someone’s residence if they obtain consent from the resident. Of course, a child cannot give consent.
Are there exceptions? Yes, if the police are in hot pursuit of a fleeing suspect, they can chase them into someone’s house without a warrant. The Exigent circumstances exception is similar to the hot-pursuit exception if time is of the essence. If the police know that the suspect who sells drugs can quickly flush them down the toilet, they can enter the property without a warrant.
Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1, is the seminal case for stop and frisk cases. In this one, a police officer watched three men case a store. Although he didn’t have time to get a search warrant, he stopped the men, demanded that they stand against the wall, and he frisked Mr. Terry by patting him down. As he did, he found a gun in Terry’s pocket. After patting down the other two men, he found another gun. The question for the court was whether the police officer violated the Fourth Amendment. Chief Justice Warren delivered the opinion of the court. “We deal here with an entire rubric of police conduct—necessarily swift action predicated upon the on-the-spot observations of the officer on the beat—which historically has not been, and as a practical matter could not be, subjected to the warrant procedure. Instead, the conduct involved in this case must be tested against the fourth amendment's general proscription against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The chief justice lowered the standard to reasonable searches, and from then on any kind of stop and frisk has been called a Terry Search.
Award finalist Sherri Stewart loves a clean novel, sprinkled with
romance and a strong message that challenges her faith. She spends her
working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing
her own. Her passions are traveling to the settings of her books and
sampling the food. She traveled to Paris for this book, and she still
works daily on her French, although she doesn’t need to since everyone
speaks English. A recent widow, Sherri lives in Orlando with her lazy
dog, Lily. She shares recipes, tidbits of the book’s locations, and
other authors' books in her newsletter.
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Selah Award Finalist: What Hides behind the Walls
If the Nazis stole your house, wouldn’t you be justified in stealing it back now that the war is over?
When Tamar Feldman admits to her husband, Daniel, and mentor, Neelie Visser, that she broke into her former home, they scold her for taking such a risk. Tamar is tired of being careful. She’s tired of living in the present, as if the past doesn’t matter. But the painting of the violin girl in her former bedroom draws her back again and again. She finally steals the painting to return it to its former owner. Now maybe this small act of justice will help her start to heal. What Tamar doesn’t realize is the past isn’t finished with her yet; in fact, it’s as close as the walls in her house and even follows her to Paris.