Warrantless Searches and Seizures in the Us
The United States Constitution fourth amendment protects individuals from warrantless searches and seizures. The amendment dictates that evidence is only acceptable in court if the law enforcers collected it using a search warrant. However, changes to this rule were introduced through some exceptions referred to as exigent circumstances that allow a court to accept warrantless evidence as admissible. Warrantless evidence can be admissible in court if it is obtained in the exigent circumstances that include consent, the use of doctrine of plain view, evidence obtained through incidental search, and emergency exception (Lewis, 2012).
Consented search is one of the circumstances that result in warrantless evidence becoming admissible. In this case, an individual should have voluntarily given a police officer permission to search their home or car. This ensures a search is validated and, as a result, anything that is found by the police turns out to be admissible evidence. It is not necessary for an officer to inform a person that he/she can say no to the search. This automatically makes it legal for the officer to search the premises without a warrant. It is also essential to consider whether the consent to search was given by the person who has a right to do so. Therefore, the court should prove that consent had been given in the correct manner (Pilgun, 2010).
The second circumstance is the plain view doctrine that involves having the evidence of a criminal activity exposed to law enforcement before conducting an initial search. An officer will then be within the right to access the evidence without a warrant. The evidence that has been found in such circumstances should not be discovered in an intentional manner like scaling a window to see. Moreover, an officer is required to discover the evidence while already in a legal position either inside or outside the premises. The other circumstance is where evidence is obtained through an emergency exception. The evidence is usually obtained in extreme circumstances, for example, when the safety of a person was at a risk, or a criminal activity was already taking place and obtaining a warrant would escalate the situation (Pilgun, 2010). An incidental search can also lead to the collection of evidence that is admissible in court. Law enforcers are allowed to search the individual being arrested, the area the person could hide or destroy evidence due to the arrest. The search should be done at the time of the arrest or immediately after the arrest (Lewis, 2012).
I believe the introduction of exigent circumstances under which warrantless evidence becomes admissible is a positive development. Police can be in a position to protect evidence of a crime when they have reasonable belief that immediate action is needed to ensure that crucial evidence is not a risk of being destroyed or removed. Some types of evidence like narcotics can be destroyed easily, and the police should be in a position to protect it through these exceptions. They are also a positive development because they can help in securing and saving the lives of many people who may be in imminent danger. For example, law enforcers take immediate action in the case of bomb threats that have the potential of killing many people. Therefore, the use of admissible evidence is a positive development.
Lewis, A. (2012). Fourth Amendment-The Burden of Proof for Exigent Circumstances in a Warrantless Search Civil Action, The. SMUL Rev., 65, 221.
Pilgun, B. (2010). Warrantless Searches and Seizures and the Admissibility of Physical Evidence Obtained by Illegal Search and Seizure-A Comparative Study. Yonsei LJ, 1, 141.