Search and Seizure in Open Fields

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Introduction

In Oliver v. United States (1984), the U.S. Supreme Court held that Oliver did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his open fields even though he put up a gate and a no trespassing sign. Entry onto such fields was not covered by the 4th Amendment. There was precedent for open fields not having 4th Amendment protection because such fields were not specifically mentioned in the 4th Amendment (along with persons, houses, et cetera). Neither businesses nor open fields are mentioned in the 4th Amendment, but a place of business that is not open to the public is protected.

Instructions

The 4th Amendment protects reasonable expectations of privacy even though such expectations are not mentioned in the language of the Amendment. For this discussion, choose and examine a precedential case that addresses open fields (other than Oliver).

In your main post:

  • Articulate whether, based on the case you selected, posting a no trespassing sign creates a reasonable expectation of privacy. Include your rationale for your decision.
  • Explain how your case selection relates to whether open fields are protected from search and seizure.
  • Differentiate between the constitutional requirements for protected searches and unprotected searches as they relate to the duties of a criminal justice professional.

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