P R O B A B L E C A U S E V S . R E A S O N A B L E
S U S P I C I O N , S E A R C H & S E I Z U R E S , A N D
R A C I A L P R O F I L I N G
Fourth Amendment notes
I. The Fourth Amendment
A. From the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution:
“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
B. No unreasonable search and seizure
1. Must have a search warrant
2. Has to be supported by probable cause
C. Requirements of probable cause
1. Likelihood that a crime was committed and that
the suspect committed it.
a. Suspicion does not equal probable cause!
2. Sources: personal observation, information,
evidence, and association
D. Exclusionary rule: Any improperly obtained evidence
is inadmissable in court.
I. The Fourth Amendment, Cont.
II. Probable cause vs. Reasonable Suspicion
A. Terry vs. Ohio (1968)
1. Police must have "specific and articulable facts” to
a. facts may be “taken together with rational
inferences” based on police experience.
B. To make a stop--need reasonable suspicion.
Purpose is investigative. Can frisk.
C. To make an arrest—need probable cause. Purpose
is to make a formal charge. Can search.
D. Most arrests are made without warrants. Have to
prove to the judge later that there was probable cause.
III. Search and Seizure
A. Right to privacy protected from unreasonable
1. Individuals must prove they expected privacy.
2. Society must see that expectation as reasonable.
ex: Phone booth--yes, garbage--no
3. However, privacy rights are superceded by
B. Police can obtain search warrants to show they have not
infringed on reasonable expectations of privacy.
1. Must state specific place
2. Must state specific person or items to be seized
III. Search and Seizure, Cont.
3. Categories of items that can be seized:
a. Items resulting from crime (eg. stolen
b. Items illegal for anyone to possess
c. Items that could be "evidence" of crime
(eg. blood-soaked gloves)
d. Items used to commit crimes
III. Search and Seizure, Cont.
C. Warrantless searches or seizures that are legal:
1) Incidental to arrest--limited to areas within a person’s
control (“arm’s reach”)
2) Consent given (you do not have to give police permission to
search, and they do not have to tell you that you have
3) Stop and frisk
4) Hot pursuit-if a person who the police are chasing enters
a building, the police can enter the building.
5) "Moveable exception"--can search cars on probable cause.
6) If it's in plain sight, police don't need probably cause to
IV. Racial Profiling
A. Sometimes nicknamed "Driving While Black"
B. Occurs when a police action is initiated by the race, ethnicity,
or national origin of the suspect, rather than by any evidence or
information that the suspect has broken the law.
C. Is rarely an official policy, but many think that it is unofficially
D. Whren vs. United States (1996)--Supreme Court ruled that as
long as police have objective probable cause to believe a traffic
violation or wrongdoing has occurred, any other reasons for the
stop will not be considered by the court--it has met the 4th