The Fourth Amendment

Protection against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

The fourth Amendment states that individuals have a right “to be protected in their houses, persons, effects, and papers, against unreasonable searches and seizures” (Maclin, 2013). The right is used to limit police power to search and seize people, their properties, and homes. The Fourth Amendment primarily implemented the idea of “each man’s home is his castle,” guarded against unreasonable searches and seizures of his land by the administration (Maclin, 2013). It also protects people from random incarcerations and acts as the law’s foundation concerning search warrants, safety inspection, stop-and-search, and wiretaps, among other types of inspection, and it is the focus of numerous other criminal law issues and privacy law. The overall goal of the Fourth Amendment is to shield the right to privacy of people and freedom from irrational intrusions by the government (Maclin, 2013). Nonetheless, it does not guarantee protection from all forms of searches and seizures, but those conducted by the government and believed to be unreasonable under the constitution.

For a long time, the court had required a claimant to prove he or she was an invasion of privacy victim for a valid standing of claiming protection under the Fourth Amendment. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has now left such conditions, and the issue of exclusion is to be established only upon proof that the Fourth Amendment rights of the claimants were violated (Maclin, 2013). The claimant is in turn, required to show a justifiable expectation of privacy that was illogically violated by the government. Searches performed by the police after handcuffing the suspect and securing the crime scene are considered a violation of the protection of the Fourth Amendment against searches and seizures. In the case of Arizona v. Grant, the Supreme Court posited police are allowed to search the vehicle of its latest occupant following his arrest only when it is logical to hold that he may access it during the search or the car has evidence of the crime of the arrest (Maclin, 2013). Since Grant left his car willingly, the search was not directly connected to his arrest, and thus, it was in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The court articulated that “warrantless searches are irrational” and a matter only to a few, thin exceptions. Grant was detained for a suspended license, and the thin exceptions were not applicable to this case.


The searches of private premises with no warrant are forbidden under the Fourth Amendment, except if there are specific exceptions. For example, a search without a warrant can be lawful if a police officer has the consent to search; when the search is incident to a lawful arrest; in case of a probable cause to search and the existence of exigent circumstance requiring a warrantless search (Maclin, 2013). Exigent situations exist in circumstances where there is impending danger; evidence faces impending destruction or before an impending escape of the suspect. Warrantless searches and seizures of properties are not considered illegal if what is being searched is in clear view. Moreover, seizing of neglected property, or properties on open ground, without a warrant does not amount to the violation of the Fourth Amendment (Maclin, 2013), since it is regarded that having expectation of right to privacy of a property that is abandoned or to properties on an open ground is unreasonable.

Exclusionary rule

The exclusionary rule bars the administration from using most of the evidence assembled in defiance of the United States’ Constitution. The ruling in the case of Mapp v. Ohio determined that the exclusionary law applies to evidence acquired from an unreasonable seizure or search violating the Fourth Amendment (Maclin, 2013). Similarly, ruling in Miranda v. Arizona found that this rule applies to the inappropriately attained self-incriminatory evidence collected in breach of the Fourth Amendment and to the evidence that is obtained in circumstances in which the Fifth Amendment right to counsel of the defendant were violated (Maclin, 2013). The Fifth Amendment calls for the police officers to notify offenders of their right to stay quiet and a right to have a lawyer in the questioning while in detention (Maclin, 2013). Chief Justice Earl Warren claimed that the questioning of the defendant violated the Fifth Amendment. The court in the protection of the privilege articulated that procedural protections were needed (Maclin, 2013). The defendant should have been warned before the interrogation of his right to stay silent, and whatever he said could be utilized against him in the law court. He needed to be informed of his right to a lawyer, and if he may not afford a lawyer, he could be assigned one before any interrogations if he so wanted. Following the giving of this warning, the defendant could have intelligently and knowingly waived the right and chosen to make statements or be interrogated. Consequently, the evidence acquired out of the interrogations could not be employed as evidence against the petitioner in the court unless the trial showed that the defendant was warned and intelligently and intentionally relinquished his rights. However, this rule doe not apply in civil cases, such as deportation cases.

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

The principle of “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” is an extension of the exclusion rule to render proof unacceptable in the trial when it is resulting from the evidence that is unlawfully acquired (Maclin, 2013). As this metaphor proposes, if the evidential “tree” is stained, so is its “fruit.” The doctrine was founded in the ruling in Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. the United States in 1920, in which the idiom “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” was invented by Justice Frankfurter (Maclin, 2013). Same as the exclusionary statute, the principle is subject to three critical exceptions. The proof is not disqualified: if its source is not connected to the unlawful activity; its detection was unavoidable; or attenuation between the unlawful action and the finding of the proof exists (Maclin, 2013).

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Moreover, if the main evidence was unlawfully acquired, although it can be admitted through good faith exception, its “fruit” of derivatives can also be admissible (Maclin, 2013). In the ruling in Wong Sun v. United States, the court ruled that an out-of-court statement following an arrest cannot be used against one of the defendant’s partners in the case unless the statement was made to further the criminal undertakings (Maclin, 2013). Therefore, the arrests were conducted with no credible grounds. Toy’s statements in the bedroom ought to be disqualified as “fruits” of the illegal acts of the officers, and such exclusions should include the exclusions of narcotics submitted by John Yee. Toy’s unsigned declaration was also not confirmed and thus did not have any basis for his arrest. Regarding Wong, the court argued that his unsigned confessions plus the heroin surrendered by Yee were admissible evidence against him as they are not “fruit” of the unlawful arrest.


Maclin, T. (2013). The Supreme Court and the Fourth Amendment’s exclusionary rule. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.