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While discussing the problem of obtaining a DNA sample legally in a situation when a suspect does not want to provide this evidence, it is important to focus on such concepts as the curtilage and the Fourth Amendment right. These aspects are required to be researched and discussed in detail to provide recommendations for investigative officers regarding the evidence collection procedure. The focus should be on analyzing the case, presenting recommendations, and proposing effective solutions to address the problem.
The Fourth Amendment Right
According to the Fourth Amendment, individuals are protected against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and inspections of private areas are possible only when the place to be searched is described in the document stating the reason for the action (Kim, 2017, para. 1). In this case, a DNA sample is required, but investigative officers have no legal reasons to search for the sample in a private home of the suspect. Furthermore, it is impossible to search not only the suspect’s house but also the curtilage, which is also protected according to the Fourth Amendment because it is a private territory (Hails, 2013). Therefore, the Fourth Amendment extends not only to a person’s house but also to his or her curtilage, where privacy and the right to intimate activities are guaranteed (Brandl, 2014).
When territories are near an individual’s house, and they are protected by fences, it is possible to speak about the Fourth Amendment rights. However, in spite of the fact that fenced private territories are regarded as the curtilage, and searches within them are prohibited according to the Fourth Amendment, there are also factors that influence the application of the amendment in this case (Gardner & Anderson, 2015). These factors should be discussed with reference to recommendations and solutions which can be used by investigative officers to collect the required evidence.
Recommendations and Solutions
The first recommendation to be followed by investigative officers includes the examination and analysis of a private territory without violating its borders. It is important to determine open fields which are not protected according to the Fourth Amendment and which can contain DNA samples of the suspect, including parts of clothes, hair, or cigarette butts (Ferguson, 2014). Since the Fourth Amendment is not extended to open fields, it is possible to use this evidence in courts (Brandl, 2014). The second recommendation to follow is the analysis of an open field to determine what barns cannot be discussed as a part of the curtilage and which can be examined by officers.
If there is a barn in open fields that is not close to the suspect’s house, and it has a corral-type fence, it is possible to prove that this territory is not private, and it is not protected by the Fourth Amendment (Gardner & Anderson, 2015). If a barn is located far from a house, it is not used as a part of this house, and it is surrounded by a fence utilized to corral livestock, it is possible to speak about this barn as an open field (Hails, 2013; Shaw, Frost, & Stevens, 2015). Therefore, there are two possible solutions in order to avoid violating the Fourth Amendment right and collect the required evidence: to examine open fields and search those areas which can be discussed by the suspect as private, but which are related to open fields rather than to the curtilage.
To collect evidence legally, it is important to determine which areas are related to the curtilage and which are not. The curtilage is protected according to the Fourth Amendment. Barns and other buildings surrounded by fences are protected according to the amendment in a limited number of cases. Therefore, it is important for officers to try to search for evidence in open fields.
Brandl, S. G. (2014). Criminal investigation (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.
Ferguson, A. G. (2014). Personal curtilage: Fourth Amendment security in public. William & Mary Law Review, 55(4), 1-12.
Gardner, T. J., & Anderson, T. M. (2015). Criminal evidence: Principles and cases (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Hails, J. (2013). Criminal evidence (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Kim, J. (2017). Fourth Amendment. Web.
Shaw, J., Frost, T. M., & Stevens, M. (2015). The conundrum of the curtilage: A critical interpretation of Florida v. Jardines. Brigham Young University Prelaw Review, 29(1), 11-22.