Originally limited only the powers of the federal government, it has been applied to state and local government by its incorporation into the 4 th Amendment
4 th Amendment does not specifically state that it protects the right to privacy.
The 4 th Amendment prohibits law enforcement officers from searching or seizing people or their property unless there is probable cause – a good reason for suspecting a person of breaking a law.
What is the purpose of the Fourth Amendment? (cont.)
If a judge a judge or magistrate agrees there is probable cause to suspect a violation of law, the law enforcement officers is given a warrant – a written document giving permission for a search and seizure.
The 4 th Amendment has been interpreted to allow search and seizures without a warrant under certain circumstances.
Warrants must specifically describe the place and person or thing to be searched and seized.
English common law protected the right to privacy by prohibiting judges from giving law enforcement officials general warrant – that did not describe in detail the places and the person or thing to be searched or seized.
General Warrants have been referred to as open-ended “hunting licenses” authorizing government officials to search people, their businesses , homes, and property indiscriminately.