The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids the act of unreasonable searches and seizures. As stated in the Fourth Amendment, the people have a right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”(US Constitution. Amendment II.
Amended 1791. Bill of Rights Institute, www.billofrightsinstitute.org/founding-documents/bill-of-rights/.
Accessed 28 Nov. 2017). This right limits the power of the police to seize and search people, their property, and their homes.
It requires searches and seizures to be conducted with the authority of a warrant, that a magistrate, judge or Supreme Court official issues to allow law enforcement to conduct a search of a person, location, or vehicle for evidence of a crime. The Fourth Amendment was created in 1789 by James Madison. Congress proposed the amendment to the states on September 28, 1789. On March 1, 1792, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson announced the approval of the amendment.Today the Fourth Amendment is interpreted as a way to keep the government from collecting or searching a person or their property without a warrant. The Fourth Amendment states that “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 was written in order to avoid the corruption of general warrants. A general warrant is a type of warrant that permits law enforcement officers to search and seize, however, it describes the reason to search with a very broad explanation and it can be granted by someone with little authorization and reason.
General warrants are unconstitutional because they do not meet the Fourth Amendment’s particular requirements of a level of authority and the needs of a clear and legitimate cause and purpose for a warrant to search. Each search or seizure has to have been cleared previously by a judge, and the reason has to meet a certain level of suspicion of illegal activity, in order to justify the search or seizure. A warrant is needed in theory before police can search, however, there can be many exemptions in not using a warrant but they are rarely permitted to be practiced. A warrantless search is allowed if the purpose of the search follows the officer’s reason to believe that contraband or other evidence may be destroyed or discarded before a search warrant could be achieved. On the other hand, there are consequences to a warrantless search. The Supreme Court ruled in the mid-twentieth century that if the police seize evidence without a warrant, it will be written as an illegal search, and then the evidence cannot be used in court. This is called the “exclusionary rule”. This can be problematic because in most circumstances evidence that was obtained illegally is being disregarded for even though it proves the defendant guilty, however, because the evidence was obtained without a warrant, the suspect can go unconvicted.
The Fourth Amendment has been a questionable topic due to the discovery of the American Government spying on their civilians and it also sparked a lot of dispute in the recent years due to the injustice of stop and frisk performed by police associating with racial bias. There have been plenty of publicly known police-citizen confrontations about search and seizure in which the police ended up shooting a civilian because they refused to let them search their house without a warrant. Statistics show that most of these civilians are African American, and because of the stereotype of them being drug dealers and criminals, police tend to try to do warrantless searches on their property.
There is also the known problem about the use of aerial surveillance, such as drones, due to how easy it is to acquire one and film on private property or people without knowing. However, due to the Fourth Amendment, certain regulations now exist such as the need for a license and permission to film people and property so people are protected by the invasion of privacy. The dilemma of the government spying on their civilians has been argued repeatedly, as police and intelligence agencies in the United States such as the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been involved in a number of questionable actions. Edward Joseph Snowden, who earlier in his life was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, was the one responsible for making copied classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) leaked to the public in 2013 without authorization. These documents revealed that the federal government was conducting a mass amount of Americans’ phone messages and Internet connections as part of the “War on Terror”. This caused a lot of outrage from the public because it violates the Fourth Amendment tremendously. People were living their lives but the government was watching, looking at their data, forcing phone companies to hand over their customer information. These agencies have gone through peoples texts, emails, and listened to phone conversations, which completely violates privacy, and opens up more information about that person’s life, which is a lot more incriminating than searching through the property the person owns.
The conclusion in the working:The usage of Fourth Amendment has evolved a lot. It has evolved so much to cover all the new problems that have come up with our society. The usage would have astonished those who composed the Fourth Amendment, not only because they did not know how the world would become and that all the current technologies like drones, cell phones, and other powerful technology would exist.