Search and Seizure Case Study

The Fourth Amendment is one of the cornerstones of our freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It protects people against unreasonable search and seizure of their person, property, and belongings. Law enforcement officers must work to ensure they do not violate the Fourth Amendment while performing their duties. They have a responsibility to protect people’s rights and not invalidate evidence for any future court cases.

In this assignment, you will analyze a case study based on an actual case to determine whether police officers’ search and seizure actions related to suspected illegal drug activities were constitutional. Here is the case study you will analyze in your assignment.

Case Study

In the Los Angeles Brentwood neighborhood, neighbors have notified the police that they have seen vehicles coming and going from one specific home. The incidents occur between 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. The neighbors believe drug activity may be taking place. The local police division assigns officers Williams and Martinez to investigate possible drug activity at that location.

Officer Williams contacts the neighborhood’s regular trash collection service and asks it to put the contents of the subject’s (defendant’s) garbage left at the curb in plastic bags so as to not mix the subject’s garbage with others. He also asked the trash collector to turn the subject’s bags over to him at the end of trash day collections. The trash collector did as Officer Williams requested. Officer Williams’s partner, Officer Martinez, searched through the garbage and found items indicative of narcotics use. Officer Williams and Officer Martinez then listed the information obtained from the trash in an affidavit to support a warrant to search the defendant’s home. Officer Martinez and Officer Williams encountered the defendant at the house later that day upon execution of the warrant. The officers found quantities of cocaine and heroin during the search and arrested the defendant on felony narcotics charges.

Note: As you complete this assignment, it will be helpful to you to read the actual case on which this case study is based: California v. Greenwood.

Instructions

Write a three- to four-page analysis of this case study in which you:

  1. Explain in your own words the Fourth Amendment, which governs the officers’ actions.
  2. Determine which of the following doctrines apply to this case study: plain view, abandonment, open fields, or border searches.
  3. Be sure to support your determination by citing specific case law and/or contemporary cases.
  4. Assess the constitutionality of the officers’ actions in the case study.
  5. Use three sources to support your writing.
    • Choose sources that are credible, relevant, and appropriate.
    • Cite each source listed on your source page at least one time within your assignment.
    • For help with research, writing, and citation, access the library or review library guides.
    • You may use your textbook as one of your resources.

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