Chapter 5-Seizures of things Flashcards Preview

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Fourth 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 person or things to be seized.


What governs the constitutionality of searches and seizures conducted by the police.

4th Amend


Exercise of dominion or control by the government over a person or thing because of a violation of law



When does seizure of property occur

when there is some meaningful interference with an individual's possessory interest in that property,
US v Jacobson, 1984


Items subject to police seizures fall into 4 general categories

1. contraband, such as drugs, counterfeit money
2. fruits of a crime, such as stolen goods
3. instrumentalities of a crime, such as robbery tools and weapons
4. mere evidence, of a crime, such as clothing containing blood, mask, wigs.


court that held drawing blood from suspect without consent is not a violation of any constitutional right, as long as it is done under certain circumstances and using accepted medical methods

Schmerber v California, 1966


Court held that surgery requiring general anesthesia to remove a bullet lodged near suspects heart cannot be allowe, even with court permission, unless government demonstrates a compelling need for it.

Winston v Lee, 1985


Leading cases in Seizures of things are?

Schmerber v California, Winston v Lee, Groh v Ramirez


Groh v Ramirez, 2004

holds that a search warrant that does not comply with the requirement that the warrant particularly describe the person or things to be seized is unconstitutional.


Drawing blood from suspect without consent is not a violation of any constitutional right, as long as it is done by medical personnel using accepted methods

Schmerber v California, 1966
Schmerber arrested for DWI involving accident.At hospital being treated, officer had phyician draw Schmerber's blood without his consent.


Schmerber case addressed and settled four constitutional issues.

1 self incrimination- court said seizure of real or physical evidence does not violate 5th amend. 5th amendment applies only to testimonial evidence.
2. right to councel- Court said there was no right to counsel at this stage
3. right to due process- Court concluded that taking blood in this case was valid because it was done by doctor in hospital and followed medically accepted procedure.
4. unreasonable search and seizure- Court ruled that the presence of exigent circumstances (alcohol would be processed thru body and be lost in a short time) justified the warrantless seizure


police may make a warrantless seizure of evidence that his likely to disappear before a warrant can be obtained.

Cupp v Murphy, 1973
Murphy went to police station after learning his wife was dead. with lawyer present and during the questioning, officers observed blood on Murphy's fingernails. Murphy refused to allow officers to take sample and began rubbing the blood off fingernails. officers took the fingernail sample without warrant.


Limited intrusion on Murphy was justified here because?

probable cause and evanescent evidence exception


the absence of a warrant does not invalidate the seizure if the evidence sought is likely to disappear unless immediately obtained.

evanescent evidence rule


surgery requiring general anesthetic to remove bullet from suspect for evidence constitutes an intrusion into suspects privacy and security that violates 4th Amend. Cannot be allowed unless government demonstrates a compelling need for it

Winston v Lee, 1985
shootout during a robbery and suspect was wounded. some time later, eight blocks from store, Lee was found to have been shot and claimed he was victim of robbery. At hospital, Lee was identified as the robber. State asked the Court for order to require Lee to have surgery to removed the bullet for evidence. Court rejected the request.


Court in Lee concluded that procedure sought was an example of?

More substantial intrusion.


the due process clause does not require police to provide the owner of property seized with notice of remedies specified by state law for the property return and info necessary to use those procedures

City of West Covina v Perkins, 1999
Perkins house was searched by police due to the suspect a boarder at Perkins home. Some of the items seized belonged to Perkins. Ninth Circuit claimed the police does have to provide notice on how to retrieve property, but Supreme crt rejected the requirement and is not required by due process clause


Search warrant that does not comply with requirements that the warrant particularly describe the person or things to be seized is unconstitutional. Fact that the application for warrant described the things to be seized, does not make warrant valid

Groh v Ramirez ET AL, 2004
Groh, an ATF agent prepared the application for a search warrant, where Ramirez's farm had weapons and explosives. Affidavit had described the things to be seized, but was not on the warrant. Violation of 4th Amend. Court relied upon Massachusetts v Sheppard, 1984.


Particularity requirement's purpose in search warrant?

is not limited to preventing general searches; it also assures the individual whose property is searched and seized of the executing officer's legal authority, his need to search and limits of his power to do so.


procedure of including references to other documents in search warrant are supported by Supreme Court

including references to other documents in a search warrant are accepted as long as they accompany the warrant. Court firmly rejected instances in which warrant itself does not particularly describe the place to be searched and person or things to be seized. Referenced in the warrant and supporting documents attached to the warrant


Detaining occupants of the premises in handcuffs for a certain period of time while executing search warrants does not by itself violate the 4th Amend,prohibition against unreasonable search and seizures

Muehler v Mena, 2004
Concerning gang-related shooting,Mena and others were detained handcuffed while search was conducted at gang members house. Court used Michigan v Summers,1981, which held officers executing search warrant for contraband have the authority to detain the occupants of premises while search conducted.


3 legitimate law enforcement interest for justification for detaining occupants during search

1. preventing flight in event incriminating evidence is found.
2. minimizing risk of harm to officers
3. facilitating the orderly completion of search


Why was Mena detention in garage was reasonable ?

because the governments interests outweigh the marginal intrusion.


Duration of detention during a search warrant

in Mena's case, Court ruled that 2 to 3 hour detention in handcuffs in this case does not outweigh the governments continuing safety interests. Court held that no prior specific rules determine when detention of suspects is unreasonable. Use of handcuffs and reasonableness of length of the detention are determined by the circumstances of case.