Fourth Amendment

Technology, the Fourth Amendment, and the Drug War

The United States Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on the Fourth Amendment is hopelessly naive, incoherent, and stupefying. Chalk that up to the Drug War, which for forty years has been a tool by both drug warriors and government officials to expand the government’s power to conduct searches. Let’s take one example: Kyllo v. US, 533 US…

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Police Tracking of Cellphones

What was originally a very rare practice and largely limited to federal authorities – the tracking of cellphones by police – has now become more common, and has spread to state and local police agencies. The New York Times reports that: With cellphones ubiquitous, the police call phone tracing a valuable weapon in emergencies like…

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Dog Sniffs and Drug Detection: Probable Cause?

The Supreme Court has agreed to review a lower ruling involving whether drug detection dogs – which are notoriously poorly trained and poorly handled – can serve as a pretext for a warrantless search. As the Florida Supreme Court wrote in Harris v. State: When will a drug-detection dog’s alert to the exterior of a…

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Stopping for Weaving is Unconstitutional

Police may stop a vehicle for reasonable suspicion – specific facts that suggest criminal activity may be afoot – or probable cause that the car in fact is committing a crime by, perhaps, speeding, having expired registration, or violating another motor vehicle law. When police rely upon reasonable suspicion, they must be able to articulate…

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Can Police Stop a Vehicle for a Broken Brake Light?

The answer is: it depends. If both brake lights are out, then the car is violation of NC motor vehicle law, and a police officer may stop the vehicle. But if just one brake light is out, and nothing else unusual is observed about the vehicle or the driving, a police officer may not stop…

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Definition of Probable Cause in North Carolina

Probable cause a standard used at different points in a criminal process – it is the standard used to arrest, the standard used to indict, and the standard used to issue search warrants. In each of these situations, someone might be arrested, indicted (charged), or searched without probable cause being shown. In the event that…

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Warrantless Dog Sniffs in Drug Cases

Police conducted a warrantless dog sniff test by a dog trained in drug detection at Joelis Jardines’ home five years ago. The police had received an unverified tip that Jardines’ home was being used to grow marijuana. Under well established constitutional law, the unverified tip did not create probable cause. In December 2006, police went…

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What if Your Cell Phone Logged all of your Data?

What if everything you pressed on a cell phone was secretly recorded and logged on your cell phone, and saved to a log file that could later be accessed by anyone with access to the phone? Scary? YES! Turns out that some computer experts have discovered secret software on many Android phones called Carrier IQ…

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