13 Jul 2022


Plain View, Open Fields, Abandonment, and Border Searches

Format: APA

Academic level: University

Paper type: Case Study

Words: 651

Pages: 2

Downloads: 0

The US constitution grants a wide range of rights and liberties to the American people. Moreover, the constitution restricts the actions of such parties as law enforcement agents. The protection against warrantless searches and seizures is among the constitutionally-guaranteed rights that the American people enjoy. While the constitution is clear regarding this right, there have been a number of cases in which parties seek the intervention of the court. The case involving Officer Jones underscores the confusion and conflicts that arise over the interpretation of constitutional provisions. For this case to be settled, it is important to scrutinize the wording of the constitution alongside other laws and statutes.

Constitutional Amendment 

The various amendments in the US constitution stipulate the liberties of the American people that should never be violated. A careful analysis of the case involving Officer Jones reveals that the 14 th Amendment is most relevant to this case and that it governs his actions. Essentially, this amendment provides that the American people are protected against unreasonable and warrantless searches and seizures (“Fourth Amendment”, n.d). This means that before conducting a search or seizing the property of an individual suspected of involvement in a crime, police officers and other law enforcement agents need to obtain and present a warrant authorizing the search or seizure.

It’s time to jumpstart your paper!

Delegate your assignment to our experts and they will do the rest.

Get custom essay

Validity and Constitutionality of Officer Jones’ Actions 

It is true that there the Fourth Amendment offers protections against warrantless searches and seizures. However, this amendment is also usually interpreted to suggest that there are particular situation where warrantless searches and seizures are legal. An examination of Officer Jones’ actions reveals that they are in line with the constitution. The fourth amendment’s requirement that officers must present warrants is suspended in a number of situations. One of these situations is when the officer believes that there is a risk that evidence will be damaged (McInnis, 2010). This is the case in Officer Jones’ situation. Had he not intervened and instructed the trash collector to set the defendant’s garbage aside, there is a real and significant chance that the garbage would have been destroyed with the rest of the garbage. Another issue that makes Officer Jones’ actions valid and constitutional is the fact that the defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy. For individuals claiming that their fourth amendment rights were violated, it is required that they had a reasonable expectation of privacy (“Fourth Amendment”, n.d). Since the defendant’s garbage was to be destroyed anyway, he cannot claim that his privacy was violated. Therefore, Officer Jones’ actions are as constitutional as they are valid.

Justification of Officer Jones’ Actions 

The fourth amendment is the primary law that governs issues concerning seizures and searches. However, there are other doctrines and principles that also come into play. Open fields, abandonment, plain view and border searches are among these doctrines. While they are different, these doctrines are underlined by the principle of reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, when an individual abandons their property in an open field where any individual can see and collect it, that individual cannot claim the right to privacy (“Fourth Amendment”, n.d). Essentially, such property is in a situation that makes the claim of right to privacy absurd and without the backing of the law. Applying the doctrines mentioned above, Officer Jones’ actions are justifiable. The defendant’s garbage was in what can be considered an open field and had been thrown away (abandoned). Furthermore, the garbage was in plain view as suggested by the fact that the trash collector was able to collect and set it aside. Therefore, in collecting and going through the garbage, Officer Jones was acting within the confines of the law. It can be expected that the court will find the evidence that Jones collected to be admissible.

In conclusion, while performing their duties, law enforcement agents are often faced by legal questions. Among these questions is the issue of whether it is legal to conduct a search or seizure without first obtaining a warrant. While the US constitution, through the fourth amendment, protects Americans against warrantless searches and seizures, it leaves some room for officers to conduct their duties without having warrants. The example of Officer Jones shows how even without warrants, officers can perform searches and seizures. This case also underscores the importance of officers to be guided by the law when performing their mandate.


Fourth Amendment. (n.d). Legal Information Institute. Retrieved August 11, 2018 from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fourth_amendment

McInnis, T. N. (2010). The evolution of the Fourth Amendment. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Cite this page

Select style:


StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Plain View, Open Fields, Abandonment, and Border Searches.


Related essays

We post free essay examples for college on a regular basis. Stay in the know!

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

Research in Criminal Justice

Research is the primary tool for progressing knowledge in different fields criminal justice included. The results of studies are used by criminal justice learners, scholars, criminal justice professionals, and...

Words: 250

Pages: 1

Views: 165

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

The Art of Taking and Writing Notes in Law Enforcement

Every individual must seek adequate measures to facilitate input for appropriate output in daily engagements. For law enforcement officers, the work description involving investigations and reporting communicates the...

Words: 282

Pages: 1

Views: 183

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

Justice System Issues: The Joseph Sledge Case

The Joseph Sledge case reveals the various issues in the justice system. The ethical issues portrayed in the trial include the prosecutor's misconduct. To begin with, the prosecution was involved in suppressing...

Words: 689

Pages: 2

Views: 252

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

Victim Advocacy: Date Rape

General practice of law requires that for every action complained of there must be probable cause and cogent evidence to support the claim. Lack thereof forces the court to dismiss the case or acquit the accused. It...

Words: 1247

Pages: 4

Views: 76

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

New Rehabilitation and Evaluation

Introduction The rate of recidivism has been on the rise in the United States over the past two decades. Due to mass incarceration, the number of people in American prisons has been escalating. While people...

Words: 2137

Pages: 8

Views: 140

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

Justification of Reflections and Recommendations

Credible understanding and application of criminal justice require adequacy of techniques in analyzing the crime scene, documenting the shooting scene, and analysis of ballistic evidence. The approaches used in...

Words: 351

Pages: 1

Views: 127


Running out of time?

Entrust your assignment to proficient writers and receive TOP-quality paper before the deadline is over.