Law Paper on Fourth Amendment Searches and Seizures

Fourth Amendment Searches and Seizures

It is a common practice for policemen to have a warrant of search before invading into one’s premises and property. The Fourth Amendment to the United States constitution protects the American citizen against unreasonable or unwarranted search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment protects personal activity and every citizen’s right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion into their properties, homes and business premises (Kerr, 2004).

Summary of the case between Katz versus United States

            The case between Katz and the United States commenced in the year 1967, when Charles Katz used a public telephone in Los Angeles, California to phone-in illegal gambling bets (Sundby, 1994). This all began when Charles Katz was listed as a suspect who performed illegal gambling operations whilst using a public phone booth as his primary means of communication. In order to set a trap on him by obtaining clear evidence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents attached an electronic eavesdropping device to every phone booth in Los Angeles. The FBI made this choice with the primary intent of listening to Katz conversation as soon as he made a call to his clients. Unknowingly, Katz fell on the FBI’s trap as the FBI agents keenly listened to the conversation that Katz had with his clients (Kerr, 2004). It was confirmed beyond any reasonable doubt that Katz was indeed transmitting gambling wagers from Los Angeles to Miami and Boston via the public phone line. Katz was thereafter arrested for being the main culprit who performed illegal gambling operations.

In spite of the fact that the FBI had obtained clear evidence to present to the court, Katz opted to appeal his case on the grounds that the evidence had been illegally obtained without any form of warrant (Sundby, 1994). He further described the FBI agents’ action to be in total contradiction with the Fourth Amendment privacy rights. Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Katz whose Fourth Amendment privacy rights had been violated by the FBI agents. The Supreme Court further argued that the Fourth Amendment privacy rights only apply to people and not public places. Therefore, any person having a private conversation is protected by the Fourth Amendment regardless of his/her locality. Furthermore, the United States constitution forbids any agency to perform unlawful seizures and searches to any American citizen. However, the FBI is obligated to do any searches only if they have a solid evidence of a person operating any form of illegal activity (Sundby, 1994).

Summary of the case between United States versus Jones

            In this case, Antonio Jones had been arrested on the count that he was a drug dealer. This was after the police had attached a tracker on his jeep with which they used to monitor Jones’s every move. This happened for approximately a month, until the police obtained valid evidence that resulted to Jones getting arrested on October 24th, 2005 (Kerr, 2004). However, Jones was in luck as the jury found him innocent of the charges. Disappointed at their loss, the District prosecutors filed another charge against Jones and his business counterpart named as Lawrence Maynard. Even though the two were convicted, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of appeal ruled in favor of the Justice Antonia Scalia’s ruling, as it is regarded unlawful for the actions of the police who had placed a tracker on Jones vehicle. This was viewed as a violation of the Fourth Amendment privacy rights.


Both Justice Scolia and Sotomayor were in agreement of the fact that the government had violated Jones’s right to privacy (Kerr, 2004). According to Sotomayor, the use of advanced forms of surveillance devices is today, a common aspect of search and seizure that does not require physical intrusion. However, I strongly believe that the use of surveillance devices such as GPS will in the future negatively affect the relationship between the government and its citizens (Sudby, 1994). I strongly believe that the use of surveillance devices is much worse as compared to physical intrusion. This is because the search and seizures are unwarranted and performed whilst the victim remains unaware. However, this may also befit the government who would be able to curb criminal activities.




Kerr, O. S. (2004). The fourth amendment and new technologies: constitutional myths and the case for caution. Michigan Law Review, 801-888.

Sundby, S. E. (1994). ” Everyman”‘s Fourth Amendment: Privacy or Mutual Trust between Government and Citizen?. Columbia Law Review, 94(6), 1751-1812.