Chapter 14
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Chapter 14. Obtaining Physical and other Evidence. Obtaining Physical and other evidence. Real evidence Must be “tangible,” such as a weapon, drugs, cash, records, etc. Also referred to as Physical evidence. Examples of physical evidence:. Weapons (guns, knives, etc) Illegal drugs

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Chapter 14

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Chapter 14

  • Obtaining Physical and other Evidence

Obtaining Physical and other evidence

  • Real evidence

  • Must be “tangible,” such as a weapon, drugs, cash, records, etc.

  • Also referred to as Physical evidence

Examples of physical evidence:

  • Weapons (guns, knives, etc)

  • Illegal drugs

  • Fingerprints

  • Clothing

  • Documents

  • Footprints

  • Hair

  • Blood

  • Grass marks or other stains on clothing

Obtaining physical evidence from the person of a suspect

  • Encounters between citizens & police include:

  • Voluntary encounters or “Consensual” stops

  • The investigative stop or Terry stop

  • An arrest based on probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime

Obtaining evidence and information by means of voluntary conversations

  • Most persons will engage in voluntary conversations, however, with law enforcement officers.

  • If at some point they wish to discontinue the conversation, they may do so.

“Free to leave” test

  • The test used by courts to determine whether such situations are voluntary or not is the free to leave test , which is defined by the U.S. Supreme Court as follows:

    • A person has been “seized” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment only if in view of all the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave.

Terry Stops

  • The amount of evidence known as reasonable suspicion is needed to authorize an investigative detention, or Terry Stop.

  • Reasonable suspicion is less than probable cause

  • Terry v Ohio (1968)

Stop & Frisk

  • Terry v Ohio also established the “Stop & Frisk” or “Pat-Down” rules

  • The police must have “reasonable suspicion both to stop someone and…

  • To “pat down” their outermost garments for WEAPONS ONLY, based on…

  • A “reasonable suspicion” their safety is in jeopardy!

Searches that can be justified during an investigative detention

  • Consent to search would have to be voluntarily and clearly given. Consent searches would be limited to the area or object consented to the searched.

  • Protective search can be made if an officer who has made a valid investigative stop has reasonable suspicion to believe that the suspect “ may be armed and presently dangerous. TERRY RULES APPLY TO STOP & FRISKS!

Searches that can be justified during an investigative detention cont…

  • Anonymous tips require “indicia of reliability”, that is corroborating information from the person giving the tip showing that person to have “predictive information” about the suspects behavior that allowed the police to judge the reliability of the anonymous stop.

Obtaining physical evidence during and after an arrest

  • A search for weapons and evidence of the crime may be made in the search incident to an arrest.

Obtaining physical evidence during and after an arrest cont…..

  • Protective sweep or safety check: Arresting officers have a right to conduct a quick and cursory check of the arrestee’s lodging immediately subsequent to arrest even if the arrest is near the door but outside the lodging where they have reasonable grounds to believe that there are other persons present inside who might present a security risk.

  • Note: This is for PEOPLE, NOT “Evidence!”

Evidence obtained during inventory searches

  • The U.S. Supreme Court listed the following for inventorying property that is being held by the police:

    • The protection of the owner’s property while it remained in police custody

    • The protection of the police against claims or disputes over lost or stolen property

    • The protection of the police from potential danger

Evidence obtained during inventory searches

  • Inventory searches: are not “searches” for incriminating evidence.

  • They are a common and sensible police procedure to determine what the law enforcement agency is responsible.

Searches of Private Premises

  • Arrest Warrants vs. Search Warrants

  • In Arrest Warrants, you’re looking for a PERSON

  • In Search Warrants, you’re looking for EVIDENCE

Authority needed by police officers to enter private premises

  • Arrest Warrants:

  • Carries with it the limited authority to enter a dwelling in which the suspect lives when their is reason to believe the suspect is within, police may enter under the following limitations:

    • Entry with an arrest warrant is limited to a suspect’s own residence and

    • “Where there is reason to believe the suspect is within”

Authority needed by police officers to enter private premises

  • Search Warrant:

  • if the conditions from an arrest warrant do not exist, law officers should obtain a search warrant in addition to the arrest warrant: or they could wait until the suspect appears in a public place to make an arrest.

Searching Homes

  • Officers must comply with knock & notice when serving arrest and search warrants:

  • Absent exigent circumstances, an officer must have an …

  • arrestwarrant to justify a nonconsensual entry into a residence to make an arrest.


  • To enter a home you must have:

    • Consent

    • Warrant

    • Exigent Circumstances

  • This is based on the “Castle Exception,”

  • E.g., a “man’s home is his castle,” and should be protected from government intrusion

Vehicle stops

  • Police need at least “reasonable suspicion” to make a stop

  • Most are temporary, brief and public

  • It does “curtail one’s freedom of movement”

  • Drivers and Occupants may be questioned

  • All occupants may be ordered out of the vehicle

Evidence during traffic stops

  • Plain-view doctrine may allow officers to “seize” evidence that they can “see” while in “plain view.”

  • This can give probable cause to search the entire vehicle!

  • Consent can be also used to ok a search

  • Police have an “Automobile Exception” to search vehicles that is unique…

The Automobile Exception

  • Carroll v U.S. (1925)

  • Established the “Carroll Rule,” or the PROBABLE CAUSE rule in dealing with vehicles.

  • Essentially, because vehicles can be moved easily, and evidence destroyed, etc., the police can search the vehicle where it is, as long as they can articulate PROBABLE CAUSE for the search.

  • A warrant is not needed, nor is consent, as long as PC is present

Key Cases

  • Carroll v. U.S. 45 S. Ct. 280 (1925)

  • U.S. v. Ross, 102. S. Ct. 2157 (1982)

  • Ross extended searches to the ENTIRE vehicle, including the trunk as well as closed containers, AS LONG AS THE POLICE HAD A LEGAL REASON TO STOP THE VEHICLE AND PROBABLE CAUSE TO SEARCH!

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