Deciding on a Fourth Amendment case


Decidingon a Fourth Amendment case


TheCase of Doe v. City of Intrusia

TheFourth Amendment

Thefourth Amendment act in the United States constitution rests on thenotion that “each man‘s home, luggage and property are private.”The act prohibits against unreasonable searches and seizures anddemands that warrants of searches and seizures be backed withjudicial sanctions and supported with probable cause. In short, thefourth Amendment protects American citizens against arbitrarywiretaps, stop-and-frisk, and surveillance and safety inspections.The central aspect in the fourth amendment act is that all personshave right to security as individuals, their houses, documents,property and other effects (Arenella,1992).As such, warrants of search and seizures should be obtainedbeforehand.

However,the Fourth Amendment act is violated on grounds of strong probablecause, affirmation oath and vivid description of the issue at hand.It is evident that early judicial decisions limited the scope of thefourth amendment to physical intrusion into private property Katzv. United States(Arenella, 1992).Several debates have been advanced with regard to what constitute“privacy intrusion” and warrant for search and seizures. Notablepast court decisions in regard to the scope of the fourth amendment act such as Katzv. United States, Olmstead v. United States, Smith v. United States aamong othersmaintained that the evidence obtained did not violate the tenets ofthe fourth amendment (Arenella,1992).

Majordecision arguments on cases that involved wiretapping of telephoneconversations on suspects were that physical intrusion were not madeand that the suspects were not forced to conduct telephoneconversations. Other arguments given were that wiretapping privateconversations was not prohibited in accordance with the fourthamendment act. The fourth amendment only requires warrant of searchand seizures on personal effects, homes and papers. In addition, morearguments were presented on the effect that surveillance, observationand ‘eavesdropping’ does not violate the fourth amendment sincethey are “nonintrusive” acts taking place away from the suspectsproperty eschewed by the Fourth Amendment act (Arenella,1992).Far from this, there are several exemptions advanced to supportunwarranted searches and seizures. These exemptions take effect whenan incident is a lawful arrest, plain-view-exception, suspectconsents to search (like in the case of Bondv. United States1999),emergencies, automobile and when there is a reasonable suspicion oncriminal act. To this end, the City of Intrusia did not violate theFourth Amendment.

Decidingon Mr. Doe’s case through the Fourth Amendment

Thefourth Amendment act does not explicitly touch on matters of textmessages and this does not constitute unwarranted search. Inparticular, Mr. Doe conversation did not “interfered with” and heinteracted with his parties’ voluntarily (Arenella,1992). Secondly, the City of Intrusia was acting on matters of urgencyinvolving the community security delay in obtaining search warrantwould have led to more deaths in the community and hence need toi9ntevene. Furthermore, the wiretapping of Mr. Doe texts did not inany way intrude his physical space and only conversation related toselling of killer methamphetamine was collected. To this end, thewiretapping evidence was justified and does not violate the FourthAmendment clause on privacy.

Inaddition, Mr. Doe did not exhibit any expectation of privacy whentransacting business over unsafe telephone. For instance, the textssent over unsecured telephone would have landed to unintended party.Furthermore, the community safety was at stake and was ‘reasonably’prepared to establish the person selling the killer meth toteenagers. Similarly, there was no other practical way to establishor link Mr. Doe with the illegal activity. However, after wiretappingtext conversations between Mr. Doe and clients, the police were ableto gather enough evidence that ascertained that Mr. Doe was guilty.In this case, despite the provisions of the fourth amendment, thecity of Intrusia had ‘reasonable’ probable cause in assessing Mr.Doe’s private conversation.

Whilewiretapping telephone conversation is unethical no court wouldexclude such evidence based on moral reasons. The society expectsprivacy in the process of text messaging, however, such privacy maybe infringed when the general safety of the society is at stake. Assuch, the interception of Mr. Doe texts by the City of Intrusia wasjustified and there were no violation of the Fourth Amendment act.The process of collecting evidence from Mr. Doe through wiretappingdid not in any way interfere with privacy and liberty of the accused.The bottom line is that, there are exceptions to the fourth amendmentact that must be upheld especially if ‘reasonable’ suspicion andurgency is required (Arenella,1992).Furthermore, the general the general good of the society cannot beforfeited by protecting the liberties of one individual who posesthreat to the whole(Arenella, 1992).


Arenella,Peter (1992). &quotFourthAmendment.&quotEncyclopediaof the American Constitution.&nbsp–&nbspvia&nbspHighBeamResearch.Retrieved March28,2015.