Select Page

Criminal Procedure
Stetson University School of Law
Flowers, Roberta K.

Criminal Procedure- Flowers

Fall 2012

Searches & Seizures

Fourth Amendment:

§ “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

o First Clause (Reasonableness Clause): Provision granting protection from unreasonable search and seizures.

o Second Clause (Warrant Clause): Spoke to the General Warrants and the Writs of Assistance. Such warrants must be founded upon probable cause and must provide ample and sufficient description.

Ø If there is a warrant, analysis should be done under the Warrant Clause

§ If there is no warrant, evaluation of the police action must be done under the Reasonableness Clause.

· Probable cause is a necessary component of each of the analyses under both of the clauses.

Chapter 1: Probable Cause

o Probable Cause: Quantity of facts and circumstances within the police officer’s knowledge that would warrant a reasonable person to conclude that the individual in question has committed a crime (in the case of an arrest) or that specific items related to criminal activity will be found at the particular place (in the case of a search).

United States v. Draper

US Supreme Court- 1959

(A tip from a reliable informant, which is corroborated by predicting facts unknowable to a stranger, gives rise to probable cause)

· Facts: Without a warrant, a federal narcotics agent arrested Draper, as he disembarked a train. Probable cause for the arrest was based on an informant’s tip, which was corroborated with an accurate, predictive description of the facts surrounding Draper’s return.

· Rule: Probable cause exists where the known facts and circumstances would cause a reasonable person to believe that an offense had been, or is being, committed

Ø The Court also held that the agent had, prior to the search and seizure, verified every element of the information provided by the special employee, except for the possession of the heroin. This, therefore, provided enough facts and knowledge to allow the agent to reasonably believe that the defendant was carrying heroin.

Ø The information provided to the agent was reliable in this case because the special employee had been working with the agent for months, had previously been reliable, and the information was actually corroborated (all but the carrying of the heroin).

Ø This case demonstrates what the Court will accept in regards to the quality and quantity of evidence that must be provided in order for a warrantless search and seizure to comport with the Fourth Amendment.

Ø Dissent (Douglas): He believed that the majority decision conflicts with the letter and spirit of the Fourth Amendment. According to Douglas, the agent acted solely on the special employee’s word, which is not enough. He believed that it was only after the arrest and search were made that there was any evidence known to the officers that a crime was in the process of being committed.

Aguilar v. Texas

United States Supreme Court- 1964

(Developed Two Prong Test to determine sufficiency of Probable Cause based on information supplied by confidential informants—(1) The Reliability of the informant and (2) The basis of her knowledge)

· Facts: Two Houston police officers applied to a local Justice of the Peace for a warrant to search for narcotics in petitioner’s home. In support of their application, the officer submitted an affidavit which, recited that “affiants have received reliable information from a credible person and do believe that heroin, weed, and other narcotics and paraphernalia are being kept” In executing the warrant, the local police, along with federal officers, announced at petitioner’s door that they were police with a warrant. Upon hearing a commotion in the house, the officers forced their way into the house and seized petitioner in the act of attempting to dispose of a packet of narcotics.

· Rule: The magistrate must be informed of some of the underlying circumstances relied on by the person providing the information and some of the underlying circumstances from which the affiant concluded that the informant, whose identity was not disclosed, was creditable or his information reliable.

Aguilar-Spinelli Test

· Along with Spinelli v. United States (1969), Aguilar established the Aguilar-Spinelli Test, a judicial guideline for evaluating the validity of a search warrant based on information provided by a confidential informant or an anonymous tip

To give rise to probable cause, an informant’s tip must contain:

1. Information supporting the applying officer’s belief that the informant is reliable and credible and;

2. A sufficient statement of the underlying circumstances from which the informant gained his knowledge

Illinois v. Gates

US Supreme Court- 1983

(Two-prong test for determining probable cause based on informant’s tip is abandoned in favor of a less technical Totality of the Circumstances Test)

· Facts: Lance and Susan Gates (D) were indicted for violation of state drug laws after police officers, executing a search warrant, discovered marijuana and other contraband in their automobile and home.

· Rule: A search warrant based on an informants tip may be property issued if, given the totality of the circumstances set forth in the warrant application, including the veracity and basis of knowledge of the informant and any corroboration of the informant’s information, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence will be found in the place to be searched.

Totality of the Circumstances Test

· This decision overruled Aguilar and Spinelli, which required tips from informants to meet separate tests for “Credibility” and “basis of knowledge,” in favor for a “totality of the circumstances” test in which a deficiency in one element may be compensated for by the other in determining the overall reliability of the tip

o The new totality of the circumstances test allows a magistrate to weigh all the facts presented in support of the warrant application to decide whether there is a “fair probability” of criminal activity

Probable Cause (Evaluate both factors under the “Totality of the Circumstances”)

1. Credibility of the informant (Why Should the Police believe this person?) (Quality)

a. Has informant proved reliable in the past?

2. Basis of informant knowledge (How does the informant know what they claim?) (Quantity)

a. Informant has first-hand knowledge?

b. Independent police corroboration support informant’s info?

Ø The information supporting each prong must be sufficiently specific so that the conclusions reached can be meaningfully evaluated by a court

Commonwealth v. Dunlap

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania- 2007

(Police training and experience is not a factor to be added to evidence)

· Facts: Nathan Dunlap was charged and convicted of drug offenses after Philadelphia Police observed him engage in drug transactions. The officer testified that he saw Dunlap exchange several “small objects”for money. The officer said that in view of his training and experience and the nature of the neighborhood, he believed that he witnessed a drug transaction. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that, based upon the facts of the case, the police officer did not have probable cause to arrest and search Dunlap.

· Rule: Police training and experience, without more, is not a fact to be added to the quantum of evidence to determine if probable cause exists, but rather a “lens” through which courts view the quantum of evidence observed at the scene.

o However, if the police officer can testify that he has experience in this particular area and known the way specific transactions usually occur, this can be used as evidence

o Every commercial transaction between citizens on a street corner when unidentified property is involved DOES NOT give rise to probable cause

In determining probable cause, all the detailed facts and circumstances must be considered:

· The time

· The street location

· Use of a street for commercial transactions

· Number of transactions

· Place where items were kept

· The movements and manners of the parties

Unprovoked Flight

Ø Flight from a law officer can be counted as a factor in the establishment of probable cause….but it is not sufficient to establish probable cause; the officer must be able to point to other specific information

Pennsylvania v. Dunlap

US. Supreme Court- 2008 (petit

He said the arrest was illegal and the charge should be dismissed. The court said that you can suppress evidence, but you can’t suppress and dismiss the charge. That isn’t a remedy for a violation of the 4th Amendment. If a court has jurisdiction over you and they have the evidence to convict you, there is no recourse, except to sue civilly. If the evidence is reliable, you will be criminally convicted.

§ Exceptions to Exclusionary Rule- If there is an illegal arrest

a. Not going to dismiss the case, as the result of an illegal arrest

i. The Court explains that it is too costly to dismiss cases

b. Not going to suppress witnesses discovered


Use all Court cases as Majority Rules

United States v. Leon

US Supreme Court-1984

(Evidence obtained by an officer in GOOD FAITH but mistaken belief that a warrant is based on sufficient probable cause will NOT BE EXCLUDED!)

· Facts: Police conducted a search using a warrant they believed in good-faith to be based on sufficient probable cause, but which was later to be lacking in that regard.

· Rule: So long as the police have a good-faith belief that a warrant has been properly issued by a magistrate and based on sufficient probable cause, evidence obtained pursuant to the warrant is admissible

Test for a valid warrant:

§ Is there a warrant, If Yes, must fulfill 3 requirements….

o There is Probable cause

o Under Oath/Affidavit

o Particularized, must specify the location to be searched and what they are looking for

Good Faith Exception: The exclusionary rule’s purpose is to deter police misconduct

· The police will not be deterred in a good faith attempt when the magistrate has issued a good faith warrant and the police followed

Good Faith Exception do no apply if:

o 1) A warrant is based on a knowing or reckless falsehood contained in the supporting affidavit

o 2) A warrant issued by a magistrate who acts as a mere “rubber stamp for the police”

o 3) The affidavit is so lacking in indicia of probable cause that a belief in its existence is unreasonable

o 4) The warrant is so facially deficient that it cannot reasonably be presumed valid

o 5) The mistake was made by the Magistrate or the police as a whole

Ø The Courts have never applied the Good Faith Exception to cases in which the Police do not have a warrant

***The Exclusionary rule does not apply to evidence illegally seized: (Must deter police officers!!)

· Don’t suppress the body

· Don’t suppress witnesses

· Good Faith Exception

· Federal Habeas Corpus Proceeding

· In civil case,

· Grand jury proceeding,

· Probation/Parole revocation hearings

· Deportation/INS case

· Impeachment of witness

· Lack of knock and announce rule

United States v. Savoca (Probable cause to arrest not does automatically give probable cause to search)

U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit- 1984

· Facts: Two men were had warrants for their arrest for their involvement in multiple bank robberies. Police arrested Sovoca and Carey after watching them enter and exit a hotel room. Following the arrests the agents secured a search warrant for the motel room, which found relevant evidence. Savoca contends that the search warrant in invalid b/c the supporting affidavit did not establish probable cause.

· Rule: The existence of probable cause to arrest will not necessarily establish probable cause to search