My Interpretation of the Six Major Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement

“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.”

The Basics

What is a search warrant? A search warrant is a court order that authorizes law enforcement officers to conduct a search of a person, location, or vehicle for evidence of a crime and to confiscate any evidence they find.

Who issues a search warrant? A magistrate or judge who is neutral to the issue/case.

What is probable cause? It is the standard by which police authorities have reason to obtain a warrant for the arrest of a suspected criminal or the issuing of a search warrant.

Why did the Founding Fathers include this in the Constitution? They included it because believed in liberty and privacy in ones home- they had experienced tyranny by the British via Writs of Assistance. John Adams heard this Otis guy talk about the WoA in trial and included it.

Exception NameMy Interpretation
1. Search Incident to Lawful ArrestIf there has been a lawful arrest this exception allows police to search the area within the persons wingspan and it will be counted as valid evidence.
2. Plain View ExceptionIf police are in the location for legitimate reasons and they see something in plain view they do not need a warrant to seize it. 
3. ConsentSomeone can give consent to police to search and seize without a warrant if they are believed reasonably by the police to give consent. 
4. Stop & FriskThe police can stop a person to frisk them if they have reasonable suspicion that the person is doing something illegal. There has to more than just suspicion for it to be “reasonable” and for the evidence to be valid in court. 
5. Automobile ExceptionA search warrant is not required to search an automobile if it is capable of being moved and if the police have probable cause. They can only search the areas that might contain the suspected evidence.
6. Emergencies/Hot PursuitIn this exception, evidence that can be easily moved or destroyed can be seized without a warrant. If a suspect enters private property while being pursued by officers, no warrant is required to enter that property in order to continue pursuit. The police can also seize illegal contraband in the private property if it is in plain sight, even if the suspect is in no way connected with the property owner.

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