The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides important protections to individuals when it comes to searches and seizures by law enforcement. This amendment requires that a warrant must be obtained from a neutral and impartial magistrate before a search can be conducted, with a few exceptions. One of the most well-known exceptions is the automobile exception, which allows law enforcement to search a vehicle without a warrant in certain circumstances.
The Fourth Amendment requires that a warrant be obtained before a search is conducted, unless there are exigent circumstances (such as a threat to public safety or the imminent destruction of evidence) that make obtaining a warrant impractical. The automobile exception is one of the exceptions to this rule and allows law enforcement to search a vehicle without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime.
The reasoning behind the automobile exception is that vehicles are readily mobile and can be easily driven away, making it difficult for law enforcement to obtain a warrant before the vehicle is moved. This mobility of vehicles makes it more likely that evidence will be lost or destroyed if law enforcement is required to wait for a warrant. As a result, the Supreme Court has held that the exigent circumstances created by the mobility of vehicles makes it reasonable for law enforcement to conduct a search without a warrant.
However, the automobile exception is not without limits. The Supreme Court has held that the exception applies only if law enforcement has probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime. In addition, the scope of the search must be limited to the area where the evidence is likely to be found and must not be excessively intrusive.
Sioux Falls, SD Criminal Defense Attorney Sonny Walter won a case in front of the South Dakota Supreme Court where law enforcement placed a video camera on a pole outside his client’s residence and remotely watched and recorded his residence for two months. Law enforcement used that video surveillance footage and evidence obtained as a result of that footage to later get a warrant to search my client’s residence. The Supreme Court ruled in State v. Jones, 2017 SD 59, that law enforcement needed to first obtain a warrant to place the pole video camera and that the evidence they obtained from the warrantless video camera could not be used to obtain the search warrant for his client’s residence.
In conclusion, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires that a warrant be obtained from a neutral and impartial magistrate before a search can be conducted, with a few exceptions. A pole video camera placed outside of someone residence is a search and requires law enforcement first obtain a warrant. The automobile exception is one of these exceptions and allows law enforcement to search a vehicle without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime. However, the exception is limited by the requirement of probable cause and the scope of the search must be limited and not excessively intrusive. These protections and exceptions help to ensure that people’s privacy rights are respected and that law enforcement is able to effectively carry out its duties. If you feel that your 4th Amendment rights to search and seizure were violated contact Sioux Falls Criminal Defense lawyer Sonny Walter.