Category Archives: 4th Amendment
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.
Imagine for the moment that you are living in Small Town, USA. Your life is pretty normal and while there are things about your life that you wouldn’t want people to know, you aren’t a pervert or a criminal. You’re just a average person when it comes to your private life and your online activities.
Maybe you have a friend, his name is… oh let’s just call him John. John Q. Public. He lives in your town and runs his own contracting business. Heck, maybe you’ve even hired him once or twice. Like you he has a bank account and a line of credit for his business. He also likes to travel, having gone to Europe last year. It’s something you’d like to do, but you’re just too busy.
One afternoon, there is a knock at your door. It’s the local Police and they have a search warrant.
A search warrant for your computer. Signed by a local Judge, they want your search engine history. All of it. They have no reason to believe that you did what they are investigating, but they have convinced the Judge that if they can just look at everybody’s computer and search engine history, they can find out who did do whatever it is that they are investigating.
Now again, you’ve done nothing wrong. Well… maybe you’re a little weird and all, but what you search for is your business after all and not my place to judge. But you’ve committed no crime and there is no reason whatsoever to suspect that might have. But here at your door stands a police officer with a warrant for your search engine history.
By the by, as you’re standing there, you notice that across the street, another Officer with another warrant is knocking on that sweet old lady’s door. And a couple of doors down the Pastors house has yet another Cop with a warrant. In fact, you notice that every house has a police officer with a warrant knocking on the door.
Never happen, Dave, you might be saying. First off the Cops got better things to do and nobody would be that silly and no Judge would ever approve such a warrant in the first place.
That’s what you would tell me, right? Right?????
(THE ORIGINAL STORY with the warrant)
The Saturday Podcast
What happens when a Police Officer makes a “reasonable error” in enforcing a law that doesn’t actually exist as the basis for a search and seizure?
And should the results of that search and seizure be admissible in Court?