Search and Seizure

The process of investigating a crime, tracking evidence and questioning witnesses by law enforcement agents can involve search, seizure and arrest. However, according to the constitutional provisions on equal protection clause of the fourth amendment, such crime investigation acts should be legally reasonable (America Law Division, 2006). That is why the law dictates for law enforcement to have a legal warrant to execute crime investigations.

According to the criminal justice system, a search is defined as the act of law enforcement officers to either trespass or engage in electronic tapping techniques as a way of seeking evidence from a suspect (Prefontaine, 2001). Therefore, a search, if not reasonable and warranted is any act that negates the individuals right to privacy whether on their property or compromising the confidentiality of their communication.  A frisk is a casual limited quick search, which mainly done on the outer clothing of a suspect during a police stop.

Seizure on the other side is legally understood as the act of confiscating an individuals property andor apprehension of persons by law enforcement officers as evidence to be presented against a crime suspect during court proceedings (FindLaw, 2009). This means that a seizure as anything illegal collected by laws enforcement officers from a person during a search operation. Due to this reason, seized items are not only to act as evidence in court against the person but should not be returned to the individual.

The criminal justice system defines arrest as any act of seizing and detaining an individual to answer or to aid in the investigation of a criminal offense (FindLaw, 2009). Here, the suspect is usually taken to police station. However, unlike the traditional practice of arrest, the authority of law enforcement officers to arrest an individual is limited by the law mainly to involve suspects of serious felonies (FindLaw, 2009). On the other hand, a stop is whereby a suspect is temporarily held by police, but may lead to an arrest if further evidence is found.

Lastly, reasonableness as it pertains to criminal justice system means that any search, seizure andor arrest of persons in the society should not be just and controlled based on suspicion but must be backed with articulation of proof of probable cause (American Law Division, 2006). Such mean that public officers should only act against an individuals liberty rights when the individual is seen a threat to peace and security of the community.

The right to privacy is one of the fundamental rights for all American citizens. However, this basic right is evidently affected by searches, seizures and arrests whether legally reasonable or not. In its ideal definition, any form of search by trespassing into a persons property or interfering with their communication infringes on the victims privacy (Prefontaine, 2001).

The law for example allows law enforcement officers to conduct limited warrant-less search and seizure or even arrest provided the act and associated inferences warrant their actions (American Law Division, 2006). This makes the concept of stop and frisk an infringement of privacy as it gives law enforcement officers the authority to justice their actions by claiming unusual conduct by the victim.
Arrests are meant for detaining a crime suspect to answer criminal offenses negates the individuals privacy. Just to be noted is that a person is never guilty unless proved in a court of justice (American Law Division, 2006). This makes arresting and detaining of a suspect to affect their privacy.

Reasonable means sufficient claim by a public officer to justify a probable cause either for conducting search and seizure or arrest. Such can be seen to legally affect privacy as the act might fail to quantify the initial claims (American Law Division, 2006).

Therefore, the criminal justice understanding and application of search, seizure, arrest and reasonable affects the absolute definition of privacy in the constitution (American Law Division, 2006). However, the rule of law must be upheld in the society for the realization of sustainable social-economic development.


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