Unit 7 Discussion Contains unread posts
Discussion topics support this unit’s objective and should be completed after reading all materials. Your responses ought to include original evaluation, synthesis, or analysis of the topic, and contribute to the weekly discussion in a meaningful way. You must complete all discussion topics and reply to your peers’ posts. Refer to the Discussion Board Rubric under Course Resources for additional requirements.
Discussion Topic: Fourth Amendment and Search and Seizure
Discuss the way in which Chimel v. California (1969) defined what officers may search, when they may search, and why. Why are such directives necessary and how do they help individual suspects but may hinder police activity. How else might search parameters be defined?
Police officers, armed with an arrest warrant but not a search warrant, were admitted to petitioner’s home by his wife, where they awaited petitioner’s arrival. When he entered he was served with the warrant. Although he denied the officers’ request to “look around,” they conducted a search of the entire house “on the basis of the lawful arrest.” At petitioner’s trial on burglary charges, items taken from his home were admitted over objection that they had been unconstitutionally seized. His conviction was affirmed by the California appellate courts, which held, despite their acceptance of petitioner’s contention that the arrest warrant was invalid, that since the arresting officers had procured the warrant “in good faith,” and since in any event they had had sufficient information to constitute probable cause for the arrest, the arrest was lawful. The courts also held that the search was justified as incident to a valid arrest. Held: Assuming the arrest was valid, the warrantless search of petitioner’s house cannot be constitutionally justified as incident to that arrest.
An arresting officer may search the arrestee’s person to discover and remove weapons and to seize evidence to prevent its concealment or destruction, and may search the area “within the immediate control” of the person arrested, meaning the area from which he might gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence. For the routine search of rooms other than that in which an arrest occurs, or for searching desk drawers or other closed or concealed areas in that room itself, absent well-recognized exceptions, a search warrant is required. While the reasonableness of a search incident to arrest depends upon “the facts and circumstances – the total atmosphere of the case,” those facts and circumstances must be viewed in the light of established Fourth Amendment principles, and the only reasoned distinction is one between (1) a search of the person arrested and the area within his reach, and (2) more extensive searches.
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