Protection Against Unwarranted Searches Essay
The Mapp v. Ohio case was very important in history and important for a person’s rights. This case has protected citizens from the authority abusing their powers. The police are not able to search through a person’s items just for any reason. If they are suspicious then they can get a warrant which allows them to search and seize any illegal items in a person’s possession. The fourth amendment is what protects the people from searches and seizures.
It states “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. ” (Warren) The amendment has a couple of exceptions depending on where the search is going to be held.
For example there are “border searches” where it is legal for authorities to search randomly without a warrant but in this case, this search was completely illegal. The Supreme Court Case Mapp v. Ohio (1961) has made a significant impact on American society because it protected people from illegal searches and seizures. In 1957, the police heard a tip that Miss Mapp had a large number of betting slips in her possession and also had a bomber hiding in her house. The police came to her house to check it out but Mapp refused to let them in without a search warrant.
They came back a couple of hours later and knocked down her door, handcuffed her, put her upstairs, and searched throughout the rest of her home. The police found other illegal items and confiscated them although they did not have a proper warrant. They also arrested her for possession of the illegal materials. When she went to court, she knew that she had illegal items but since the police did not provide her with a warrant then she was considered not guilty. The Fourteenth amendment played a major role in this case.
The Fourteenth amendment states: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
This amendment protects all the American citizens because as long as they reside in the United States then they are protected. The court ruled that the fourth amendment protected Miss Mapp and the police did not have the right to search through her things and seize the illegal materials although they were illegal. The court believed “constitutional provisions for the security of person and property should be liberally construed. . . . It is the duty of courts to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon. Patrick) That basically means that the court is responsible to protect the people by using the constitution and the rights of man. The job of the court is to translate the laws and make sure that citizens are provided justice. If it were up to just the police, Miss Mapp would have gone to jail for containing those items in her house and they would not have recognized the fact of how they found them. The police would not have wanted to admit that they needed a warrant, according to them she had illegal materials and that was the main point.
They would have wanted to just serve justice to her and make her pay for the wrong that she committed. The Fourth Amendment’s rights of privacy have been declared enforceable against the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth. The due process clause means that the judge must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person according to the law. That means that citizens have the right to a fair trial and the court has to respect all sides of the case, not just look at it from one perspective. People had protection through,
The Fourth Amendment… put the courts of the United States and Federal Officials, in the exercise of their power and authority, under limitations and restraints… forever secure the people, their persons, houses, papers and effects against all unreasonable searches and seizures under guise of law… and the duty of giving to it force and effect is obligatory upon all entrusted under our Federal system with the enforcement of the laws. (Goldstein) That quote was useful to show the court’s ruling on the incident, how the court believed in the amendments, and what happened to Miss Mapp.
The police broke a law since they were not able to search through Miss Mapp’s home without a search warrant. The police were at fault since they were not properly prepared and confiscated items that had nothing to do with them. Miss Mapp was definitely not innocent because she had those obscene materials in her possession. Since the police did not have the right to be looking through her stuff then she was not charged for having those items. If the police would have had the proper warrant then Miss Mapp would have been charged for having the items in her possession. A case was made that,
If letters and private documents can thus be seized and held and used in evidence against a citizen accused of an offense, the protection of the Fourth Amendment declaring his right to be secure against such searches and seizures is of no value, and, so far as those thus placed are concerned, might as well be stricken from the Constitution. The efforts of the courts and their officials to bring the guilty to punishment, praiseworthy as they are, are not to be aided by the sacrifice of those great principles established by years of endeavor and suffering which have resulted in their embodiment in the fundamental law of the land. “Mapp”Oyez) That statement is true but the law says that seizing documents as evidence is different than evidence that was seized illegally even if the documents were seized without a warrant. Since the police received a tip about Mapp having some “obscene” materials they felt that they had to check them out for themselves. The police should have never used force to get inside of her home and should have never done the things they did after they were inside her home. The police did not have an approved search warrant that they could show Miss Mapp to be able to look through her items.
The court had an interesting way of handling the evidence by saying, In this jealous regard for maintaining the integrity of individual rights, the Court gave life to Madison’s prediction that ‘“independent tribunals of justice . . . will be naturally led to resist every encroachment upon rights expressly stipulated for in the Constitution by the declaration of rights. ”’ (“Mapp”Tourolaw) The court basically stated the use of the evidence as “unconstitutional” due to the way it was seized. The court ultimately ruled that the police had violated the Fourth and the Fourteenth Amendments.
Those amendments were set in place to protect the citizens from federal and state intrusion of a person’s private property. The Fourth Amendment was put in place to protect individuals from search and seizure. The citizens of the United States are able to stand up for themselves and not allow the authorities to search their property unless they present a warrant. The police have to get a warrant, that is specific to what they are looking for, to be able to search an individual. The police would have to go to a court and place a request and then court has the decision to approve or not. In conclusion Mapp v. Ohio was a very important case.
If it were not for the Mapp incident then maybe the court would have never ruled unwarranted searches as breaking the law and unwarranted searches would still be occurring. Although Mapp did have some obscene materials, the police had no right to confiscate them because they were performing an illegal search. The police were not at all trying to look for the items that they found, but once they found them, they still tried convicting her for possession of the items. When Mapp took the case to the Supreme Court, they had to rule her case correctly because it is the court’s job to protect the people by using the powers of the law.
The court paid attention to the amendments and the constitution that our forefathers put in place as the correct way of life. They also realized that the items were not found intentionally. If they would have found those same items with a correct search warrant then Miss Mapp would have been in trouble. The court used the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments to prove that Miss Mapp had rights and the citizens of the United States do not have to allow the police to search through your private property unless they have a search warrant. This ruling has protected many people from being abused or taken advantage of by the police.