(INTELLIHUB) — Before law enforcement personnel can enter an individual’s residence they need to have probable cause in order to get a search warrant. Historically they have needed some indication that criminal activity is occurring at the location they intend to enter with the search warrant.
The Fourth Amendment always afforded us that security. It was written in order to protect us from illegal searches and seizures. But now it appears that in some cases law enforcement personnel are trampling roughshod over what once was a right guaranteed to all Americans.
According to the Cornell University Law School Website, “The Fourth Amendment originally enforced the notion that “each man’s home is his castle”, secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government. It protects against arbitrary arrests, and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance, as well as being central to many other criminal law topics and to privacy law.”
As per a Washington Post article, police in the Washington, D.C. area have been entering the residences of “suspects” without any probable cause whatsoever, and in many cases, the person of interest – the “suspect,” did not even reside on the property.
Here is one startling example of how the Fourth Amendment is apparently being ignored:
[63 year-old] Sallie Taylor was sitting in her apartment in Northeast Washington [D.C.] one evening in January 2015 watching ‘Bible Talk’ …. She turned and looked up [as] nine D.C. police officers smashed through her door, a shotgun was pointed at her face and she was ordered to the floor.
The heavily armed squad thought they were searching the residence of a woman arrested two miles away the previous night for carrying a half-ounce vial of PCP.
Taylor, who did not know the woman, was terrified. Trembling, she told police that the woman did not live there. Officers spent 30 minutes searching the house anyway, going through her boxes and her underwear drawer. They found no drugs and left without making an arrest.
Sallie Taylor does not have a criminal record, she was not engaged in any criminal activity and yet the police were able to get a search warrant without any probable cause.
So on what basis did the police enter this innocent woman’s domicile? Truth is stranger than fiction.
“…. In an affidavit to a judge, police argued that they should be able to search for drugs there based on their training and experience investigating the drug trade.”
Whoa. Full stop. Pardon my acronym, but WTF?
It seems as though a very dangerous precedent is being set here.
Are we to understand now, that in violation of the Fourth Amendment that domiciles can be entered with no probable cause? That a whim (or bad intentions) based training and experience substantiates the issuance of a search warrant?
And to carry this one step further, if someone is hypothetically caught with a small quantity of marijuana, or an illegal firearm, miles from their home, based on training and experience, the police can write up an affidavit, pull a search warrant, and then enter the suspect’s domicile without any probable cause?
That is a scary thought, and seems to fly in the face of one’s reasonable “expectation of privacy.” It is legally easier for a law enforcement officer to demand a search of your car’s interior versus the trunk of the vehicle. The “expectation of privacy” for the trunk is higher than say the glove compartment.
But the tactics which this woman was subject to seem to absolutely decimate one’s rights as provided by the Fourth Amendment. Where is the line to be drawn? If an individual does not have the right to privacy or the expectation of privacy in their own home, what happens when they are in a public location? Does that mean that their “expectation of privacy” decreases if they are waiting for the bus?
The Washington Post article quotes attorney “Alec Karakatsanis, of the nonprofit group D.C.-based Equal Justice Under Law [as saying that the local police] …. have turned any arrest anywhere in the city into an automatic search of a home …. It … [facilitates] a fundamental change in the balance of power in our society between government agents and individual rights.”
Issues like these are becoming more common in the United States. Like dopey frogs lazily dozing in a soon-to-be-boiling pot, most people in our society are unaware that the America of yesteryear is disappearing along with their liberty.
About the Author:
The author of this article, who prefers to use the nom de plume “XKeyscore” in order to maintain his anonymity, is a Doctoral Candidate and multiglot with two Master’s Degrees and a Baccalaureate specializing in Middle Eastern Studies. He holds one Master’s Degree specializing in Intelligence and Counter-intelligence operations, and a second Master’s Degree in Security Studies. XKeyscore has studied under a United States intelligence agency analyst and now-retired, high ranking, American military officers. XKeyscore writes exclusively for Intellihub News & Politics. Read more articles by this author here.