Wednesday, November 11, 2009

4 th amendment and the exclusionary rule

What would happen if the Fourth Amendment did not exist? The fourth amendment is 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. This means security in my opinion, of the person in their home mainly. If the fourth amendment did not exist, what would happen? In my opinion the fourth amendment might as well not exist thanks to the USA PATRIOT Act which by the way is you disagree with it you are not an extreme nutjob, anyways, the Act ensures that the government now does have the ability if they so choose to bypass the fourth amendment and do as they please. The Patriot Act increases the government’s surveillance powers in four areas:
1. Records searches. It expands the government's ability to look at records on an individual's activity being held by third parties. (Section 215)
2. Secret searches. It expands the government's ability to search private property without notice to the owner. (Section 213)
3. Intelligence searches. It expands a narrow exception to the Fourth Amendment that had been created for the collection of foreign intelligence information (Section 218).
4. "Trap and trace" searches. It expands another Fourth Amendment exception for spying that collects "addressing" information about the origin and destination of communications, as opposed to the content (Section 214).
The Act also creates a new crime of "domestic terrorism." The Patriot Act transforms protesters into terrorists if they engage in conduct that "involves acts dangerous to human life" to "influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion." How long will it be before an ambitious or politically motivated prosecutor uses the statute to charge members of controversial activist groups like Operation Rescue or Greenpeace with terrorism? Under the Patriot Act, providing lodging or assistance to such "terrorists" exposes a person to surveillance or prosecution. Furthermore, the law gives the attorney general and the secretary of state the power to detain or deport any non-citizen who belongs to or donates money to one of these broadly defined "domestic terrorist" groups

The exclusionary rule, stemming directly from the Fifth Amendment, states that no object may be used in court as evidence if obtained illegally or without a proper search warrant. This principle gained its constitutional roots back in 1921 in the case of Gouled vs. United States. This Supreme Court held that although the government could seize contraband, it could not seize property simply to use as evidence. There are certain cases where evidence from warrantless searches is admissible, such as when something is in plain view, at an airport, during an arrest, or when there is no time to obtain a warrant. The exclusionary rule prevents the police, in their zealousness to solve crimes, from violating the civil liberties of American citizens. Warrants can only be issued by judges if there is "probably cause" to believe that evidence of wrongdoing will be found. Warrants must contain the date, location, and time of a search, what is expected to be found, and the grounds for believing that such an object will be found in the place indicated. Many feel that these institutional safeguards are what distinguish America from less civilized nations. They maintain that our civil liberties must be protected above all else. The problem in some peoples' minds is that a person should not have contraband in his/her possession to begin with. If a police officer or investigator uncovers contraband in an unconstitutional manner, they feel that there is no reason to pretend that the material does not exist. They maintain that criminals all too often escape justice by loopholes such as this. Some Americans are willing to sacrifice some of their Constitutional rights for a greater feeling of safety and security.

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