What are the main steps in Fourth Amendment analyses?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are three main steps involved in 4th Amendment analyses.

First, a court must decide if the 4th Amendment applies in the case at hand.  In order to determine this, the court must ask first whether the government action in question was actually a search or a seizure.  In addition, the court must ask whether the search or seizure (if it was one) invaded someone’s right to be secure.  For example, the court must ask whether the person had any expectation of privacy with regard to the area that was searched.

The second main step asks whether the 4th Amendment is satisfied.  The amendment protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures.  Therefore, the second part of the analysis asks whether the search or the seizure was reasonable.

Finally, if the 4th Amendment applies and it has not been satisfied, a third step is necessary.  In this step, the court must ask what remedies are available. 

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