Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Brent E. Newton


The Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures have resulted in a massive body of appellate case law, including several hundreds of decisions by the Supreme Court and many thousands of decisions by the lower courts. The Article, written by a former long-time public defender, provides a comprehensive and accessible survey of the Fourth Amendment as applied to recurring real-world situations in which a police officer or other governmental official engages in a search or seizure of property or a person. The Article addresses both "substantive" and "remedial" aspects of the Fourth Amendment in both criminal prosecutions and civil rights lawsuits and also discusses the many occasions when the Fourth Amendment tolerates reasonable mistakes by police officers. The Article concludes by noting the many hurdles that a criminal defendant or civil rights plaintiff must overcome in order to prove a constitutional violation under the Fourth Amendment and then obtain a concomitant remedy.