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Search, Seizure, arrest, and reasonableness Essay

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Updated: Nov 28th, 2019


Search, seizure, arrest, and reasonableness have been controversial topics in the criminal justice system for a number of years. Interferences with individuals’ privacy expectations have been cited as the major undoing of the criminal justice system. This essay provides an in-depth analysis of the United State searches, seizures, arrests, and reasonableness.

Search and Seizures

A search is a meaningful interference or intrusion into individual privacy (Waksman & Goodman, 2010). It is premised on collection of evidence in pursuance of criminal activity. Searches can be with or without warrants. Under the federal law, an enforcement officer must obtain a search warrant issued to intrude person’s privacy.

However, searches can be without a warrant on the probable causal basis. This is because a federal law enforcing officer may believe that there is no enough time to obtain a warrant to conduct searches for evidence without it (Waksman & Goodman, 2010).

Seizures are divided into two namely; the seizures of property and seizures of individuals. A property seizure is the meaningful interference of a person’s possessory interest in his or her property (Zalman, 2011). The government can make an individual reasonably believe that he or she cannot go about his or her business, with the view of ongoing incident circumstances (Zalman, 2011). The seizure of an individual may include a full arrest, detentions on investigation, checkpoint inquiries, or detentions against the will (Zalman, 2011).

Search or seizure warrants are issued by a judge or a magistrate if there is a fair probability that the search and seizure will produce beneficial evidence for the wrongdoing (Zalman, 2011). The Fourth Amendment provides warrant-less searches in cases where the warrant clause takes precedence over reasonableness provision.

A reasonableness clause protects a person’s right to privacy. A reasonable search and seizure warrants must specifically describe the place to be searched, and the property to be seized. Furthermore, a warrant may also be issued for the property designed and intended for use or used in committing a wrongdoing.

According to Waksman and Goodman (2010), a search or a seizure warrant can be issued to officers to allow them arrest individuals found guilty. Reasonable warrants must be supported by probable cause for a search or seizure of a property, or a person. This is to protect citizens against arbitrary violation of their rights, by the government. Reasonableness also plays an important role in restraining the federal government’s action against the aliens.

The action that the government takes and the individuals’ expectations determine the action against the aliens. This implies that if the court determines that the government intrusion is unreasonably relative to the person’s protected privacy, then the violation has occurred. Once a reasonable interference with a person’s privacy expectation is established, the law enforcing officer is allowed to obtain a warrant that allows a federal law officer to intrude upon a person’s privacy (Waksman & Goodman, 2010).

Warrants are also executed through arrests. In the criminal justice system, arrests take place when a person is taken into custody by a police officer (Zalman, 2011). The criminal justice system starts with the arrests of criminals by the federal officers. The most common arrest is where police arrest individuals after finding them committing a crime.

Secondly, it can be a probable cause arrest if there is evidence to prove that one got involved, or is about to get involved in criminal activities. The federal law enforcing officer can also obtain an arrest warrant from a judge or migrate to affect the arrest. Finally, a search or seizure warrant can also prompt an arrest.

Stop and frisk, the most controversial criminal procedures instructed by police officers, is a form of search that is based on unreasoned suspicion that focuses on averting a crime (Waksman & Goodman, 2010). It may be carried out in search of weapons from an individual.

On the other hand, an automobile search is carried out when an officer relies on probable cause, to believe that evidence can be obtained from a person’s vehicle. Policemen do not require obtaining a court warrant to search or seizure the vehicle (Waksman & Goodman, 2010).

Border and regulatory searches are exempted from the Fourth Amendment warrant and probable cause requirements (Vina, 2006). Routine stops and searches at the U.S borders do not necessarily require warrants or probable cause. This is justified by the need of the government, to protect itself, its property, and citizens.

This is done through inspection of property and individuals, entering and leaving the country. However, reasonableness applies to the border and regulation searches. Border searches can be categorized into two groups. These include reasonable routine searches and non-routine searches that require reasonable suspicion (Vina, 2006).


The Fourth Amendment provides searches and seizures that aim at achieving effective administration of criminal justice in the United States. Moreover, it includes reasonableness in the criminal justice system, to safeguard the privacy rights of individuals. Searches and seizures need to be reasonable, in order to establish an expectation of privacy and meaningful interference. Regardless of areas, searches and seizures must be reasonable.


Vina, S., R. (2006). Protecting our Perimeter:” Border Searches” Under the Fourth Amendment, Report for Congress. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from

Waksman, D. M., & Goodman, D., J. (2010). The search and seizure handbook. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.

Zalman, M. (2011). Criminal procedure: Constitution and society. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

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