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Automobile Searches

Warrantless Searches, Automobile Searches: Is The Fourth Amendment In Jeopardy?, Warrantless Seizures Of Automobile As Forfeitable Contraband

The FOURTH AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution guarantees U.S. citizens freedom from "unreasonable searches and seizures." In Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 88 S. Ct. 507, 19 L. Ed. 2d 576 (1967), the U.S. Supreme Court established the principle that a warrant issued by a "neutral and detached magistrate" must be obtained before a government authority may breach the individual privacy that the Fourth Amendment secures. The Katz decision held that "searches that are conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment—subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions." Over the years, the Court has recognized a number of exceptions to this rule that allow the police to conduct a legal search without a warrant in certain situations. One of these exceptions is for automobile searches.

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