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Forensic Science: THE FOURTH AMENDMENT, SEARCH AND SEIZURE PowerPoint Presentation
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  2. Evidence & Crime Scene Investigation The goal of crime scene investigation is to recognize, document, and collect evidence at the scene of a crime. Solving the crime will depend on piecing together the evidence to form a picture of what happened at the crime scene.


  4. History/Purpose of the 4th Amendment • Not all searches are prohibited, only those that are unreasonable. • Many times students or even professionals in the field lose sight of the rationale and reasons for the Fourth Amendment. • Asking the following questions in search/seizure situations will assist in analyzing this complex area: From a criminal procedure perspective, the Fourthand Fifth Amendments contain the most important language in existence within the US legal structure.

  5. 4th Amendment Review •

  6. Legal Considerations: Any removal of evidence from a crime scene must be in accordance with the FourthAmendment. “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.”

  7. A warrantless search can be conducted: • under emergency circumstances (danger to life or limb) • if there is immediate danger of the loss or destruction of evidence • if there is probable cause — the search of a person and their immediate property in conjunction with a lawful arrest • with the consent of the • involved parties

  8. PROBABLE CAUSE Absolute Certainty Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 100 50 (Articulable) Reasonable Suspicion Probable Cause 0 Possibility / Hunch


  10. PROBABLE CAUSE • In layman’s terms, how will you define Probable Cause for a jury. • A reasonably prudent person would believe: • that a crime has been committed • that the person to be arrested has committed that crime

  11. PROBABLE CAUSE Test for Probable Cause The focus in determining probable cause is not on the certainty that a crime was committed, but on the likelihood of it. Don’t have to be RIGHT; but, you do have to be REASONABLE


  13. Absence of a Search Warrant Since the 1960’s, the Supreme Court has been defining the circumstances under which the police can search for evidence in the absence of a search warrant. A number of allowances have been made for warrantless searches (which would normally violate the 4th Amendment): • 1) the existence of emergency circumstances • 2) the need to prevent the immediate loss or destruction of evidence • 3) a search of a person and property within the immediate control of the person provided it is made incident to a lawful arrest (probable cause) • 4) a search made by consent of the parties involved

  14. Mincey vs Arizona • Two cases were decided in 1978 on these issues: • The court decided that a 4-day search following a warrantless entry in response to an officer- involved shooting was not legal and the evidence obtained which was used to convict Mincey was thrown out and the conviction was overturned.

  15. Michigan vs Tyler • Following the burning of a building, three additional searches of the premises turned up evidence of owner-initiated arson. • The court ruled that the three subsequent trips into the premises without a warrant being obtained were illegal searches and the conviction was overturned. • The search of the buildings following the initial response to the fire was allowed though warrantless since it immediately followed the initial entry by firefighters.

  16. What is a Search Warrant?


  18. Types of Search Warrants • “Daytime” vs. “nighttime” search warrants • No-Knock or unannounced entries • Anticipatory search warrants • “Sneak and peek” entry warrants • Searches of computers and other documentary evidence

  19. Anticipatory Warrant • An anticipatory warrant permits police to obtain search warrant directed at a person and place where it is reliably anticipated that some illegal contraband or other evidence of a crime will be located at some specific place in the future.

  20. U.S. v. Grubbs and Anticipatory Warrants • In U.S. v. Grubbs (2006), the Supreme Court stated that , in effect, all search warrants are anticipatory; however, • Probable cause must exist to believe that evidence will be found when the search is conducted; otherwise, • An anticipatory warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

  21. Obtaining Evidence from the Internet (Cyber Evidence) • Crimes against children, threats, abductions, and pornography are the most frequent via the internet, followed by identity theft and computer hacking crimes. • Most of the websites for child pornography are national in scope, so states have difficulty responding. • The federal government has created task forces to enforce both state and federal laws.

  22. Grubbs and Anticipatory Warrant (Cont.) • The Court held that the language of the Fourth Amendment does not require that the basis for the warrant must be specified, but only “the place to be searched” and “the person or things to be seized.”

  23. Obtaining Evidence from Other Personal Electronic Devices • Laptop computers, cell phones, pagers, flash drives, MP3 players, and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) can store electronic data. • Law enforcement can obtain access to these with a search warrant based on probable cause or a consent search. • Such searches must be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. • See U.S. v. Park, 2007

  24. Administrative Search Warrants • Fire, health, building, and food inspectors, etc., may obtain administrative search warrants to determine if a person or business is in violation of state laws designed to protect the public. • A lower standard of probable cause applies to these warrants.

  25. Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance • Prior to 1968, the United States did not have any laws governing wiretapping and electronic surveillance. • In 1968 Congress enacted the Federal Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act. Most states followed by enacting similar state laws making changes in the law of electronic surveillance.

  26. Katz v. United States • U.S. Congress enacted this act (Federal Wiretapping Act) after the FBI had attached an electronic listening device to a public telephone booth. • The U.S. Supreme Court held that this was a violation of Katz’s Fourth Amendment rights • The decision has to do with the PERSON’s right to privacy, NOT the PLACE.

  27. Aerial Surveillance? • In 1986 the court ruled that information gathered by aircraft of a suspects home was not in violation of the Fourth Amendment because it was a general observation and therefore admissible • California v. Ciraolo

  28. Tape Recording and Wiretapping Cases That Made National News • Tape recordings leading to impeachment of U.S. President (Tripp/Clinton) • Crime of dissemination (passing on information of contents of illegal wiretaps or tapes) • Tapings of public statements by public figures that did not violate privacy laws • California criminal wiretapping trial (“Hollywood’s Mr. Fixit”)

  29. Confrontational Telephone Calls • Requires cooperation of the witness or victim and the call has to placed before criminal charges have been filed. • If the call is AFTER charges have been filed, is “accusatory,” and is designed to elicit an incriminating statement, the Massiah Rule would apply and the person would have to be admonished.

  30. The laws authorize court orders permitting wiretapping and/or electronic surveillance by law enforcement officers in much the same manner as search warrants are issued. • The act makes wiretapping and electronic surveillance done in violation of the act a felony.

  31. Techniques of Lawful Electronic Surveillance • The three primary techniques of electronic surveillance available to law enforcement agencies are: • Pen Registers • Trap and Trace Devices • Interception of the Content of the Message

  32. Obtaining Evidence by Overhearing, Monitoring, and/or Recording Statements or Conversations • Overheard conversation (plain hearing in public or private place) • Statements made to undercover officers or others in their presence • Tape recordings where suspect has no expectation of privacy (police vehicles, jail cells, etc.)

  33. Overhearing, Taping Statements or Conversations (Cont.) • One party to a telephone conversation consents to recording or listening to conversation by police • “Confrontational” telephone call or face-to-face meeting with a suspect • Using body wires or radio transmitters

  34. Kyllo v. U.S. • Use of Thermal Imaging devices are RESTRICTED and a warrant must be obtained.

  35. Obtaining Evidence by Use of Dogs Trained to Indicate an Alert • Drug and Bomb Detection Dogs • In using dog-detection evidence in criminal courts, keeping and maintaining updated records on the dog and its handler is essential because the challenge to this evidence generally is the dog’s reliability.

  36. Obtaining Evidence by Use of Dogs Trained to Indicate an Alert (Cont.) • Testimony on the dog reliability: • The training that the dog received to detect the odors for particular drugs • The dog’s success rate in detecting these drugs • The method used to train the dog to indicate an alert

  37. Obtaining Evidence by Use of Dogs Trained to Indicate an Alert (Cont.) • Whether the dog alerted in the proper manner • Proof of the dog’s certification • Proof that the dog has continued to meet certification requirements and has continued to receive necessary training on a regular basis