Search and Seizure -The Fourth Amendment

This paper deals with the history and procedures of search and seizure as well as the 4th Amendment. The purpose of this paper is to inform or explain to the reading public a wider view of this topic, so that they will know if their rights were already been violated should they were placed in such situations. The 4th Amendment or more commonly known as search and seizure originated in the 17th and 18th century in England due to a strong reaction of the public to 3 cases. The first two cases are the Wilkes v. Woods, 19 Howell’s State Trials 1153 (C.P. 1763) and Entick v.

Carrington, 19 Howell’s State Trial 1029 (C.P. 1765). The subject of these two cases was pamphleteers charged with seditious libel because they criticized the king’s ministers and the king himself. As a result, the king’s agents issued a warrant authorizing the ransacking of the homes of the pamphleteers seizing all their books and papers. After the warrant was carried out, the defendants, Wilkes and Entick sued for damages, claiming that the warrant was void and the searches conducted pursuant to them were illegal.

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Through the powerful opinion of Lord Camden, Wilkes and Entick won the case. The third case is known as the Writs of Assistance. In their bid to eradicate smuggling in colonial Boston, the British Custom inspectors were given blanket search warrant (writ of assistance) which allowed them to search any place they suspected of having smuggled goods. This kind of warrants authorized private citizens to help custom inspectors carry out the searches. This prompted some Boston merchants to sued and seek a holding that the writs are invalid through lawyer James Otis. Although the merchants lost the case, the strong argument of Otis in defense of individual privacy became famous and it strengthened opposition to British rule.

The 4th Amendment was created after the famous 3 cases not only to affirm the results of Wilkes and Entick cases but also to overturn…