There Are Six Major Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement Essay Sample

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1. Search Incident to Lawful Arrest

A search incident to lawful arrest does not require issuance of a warrant. In other words, if someone is lawfully arrested, the police may search her person and any area surrounding the person that is within reach (within his or her “wingspan”). See Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752 (1969)

EXAMPLE: John is arrested for driving while intoxicated after being pulled over for running a red light. A search of his car reveals 8 bags of heroin in the glove compartment and an illegal handgun in the trunk. The heroin is admissible evidence for which no warrant was required as the glove compartment is certainly within John’s wingspan. The gun found in the trunk, however, was not within his wingspan, and was the result of an unreasonable search. This evidence will be excluded.

2. Plain View Exception

No warrant is required to seize evidence in plain view if the police are legitimately in the location from which the evidence can be viewed.

EXAMPLE: an officer cannot illegally enter a suspect’s back yard and then use the plain view exception to seize an illegally kept alligator living in the pool. But, if on the premises to serve a warrant duly issued to search for marijuana plants, the alligator, if in plain view, can rightly (though by no means easily) be seized.

3. Consent

If consent is given by a person reasonably believed by an officer to have authority to give such consent, no warrant is required for a search or seizure. So, if a suspect’s “significant other” provides police with a key to the suspect’s apartment, and police reasonably believe that she lives there, the search will not violate suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights even if she did not live there and even if she, in fact, lacked authority to consent, . See Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177 (1990).

EXAMPLE: Officer Warren knocks on a murder suspect’s door. the door is answered by the suspect’s 6 year old child, Timmy. The officer asks Timmy “Is it okay if I come in and talk to your Dad? He’s expecting me.” And then walks into the apartment. He then sees the suspect, Roland, sitting on the sofa oiling his illegal Tommy-gun, the suspected murder weapon. He arrests Roland for possession of the gun and seizes the evidence. Because Timmy, being a small child, was not legally able or authorized to give consent, the entry was illegal and the evidence will be excluded.

4. Stop & Frisk

Police may stop a suspect so long as there is a reasonable suspicion of a criminal act. The evidence necessary for “reasonable suspicion” here is something beyond mere suspicion, but is less than the level required for probable cause. If there is reason to believe that the person may be armed and dangerous, the police can also frisk the suspect. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).

EXAMPLE: Officer P. Harker’s peers often joke that he has something akin to a “spidey-sense” which tells him when folks are up to no good. While enjoying a cup of coffee at his favorite donut shop, Officer Harker’s neck hairs stand up straight. He immediately goes outside where he sees Ivan walking down the street, carrying a small duffel bag. He orders Ivan to stop and drop the bag. When the bag falls, Officer Harker hears the clanging of metal against metal. He then frisks Ivan and discovers a hidden pistol in Ivan’s pocket. He then searches the duffel bag and discovers ammunition and several illegal hunting knives. Despite the fact that Officer Harker’s “spidey-sense” proved accurate once again, the evidence will be excluded as he can not articulate any reason why he stopped Ivan, other than his unusually active neck hairs.

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