search – upon probable cause, examination of a person’s body, property, or other area the person considers private, by a law enforcement officer, for the purpose of finding evidence of a crime

     This page is continued from Criminal Procedure Step-by-Step Walkthrough >>>> 1. The Arrest, Search and Seizure, and Booking >>>> ii. Search and Seizure – Reasonable or Unreasonable:


n. (14c)

1. Criminal procedure. An examination of a person’s body, property, or other area that the person would reasonably be expected to consider as private, conducted by a law-enforcement officer for the purpose of finding evidence of a crime.  *  Because the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches (as well as seizures), a search cannot ordinarily be conducted without probable cause. [1]

1. A matter of invasion and quest, implying some sort of force, actual or constructive, much or little. State v Quinn, 111 SC 174, 97 SE 62, 3 ALR 1500.

A quest by an officer of the law, secret, intrusive, or accompanied by force. Hale v Henkel, 201 US 43, 80, 50 L Ed 652, 668, 26 S Ct 370.

An examination or inspection, by authority of law, of one’s premises or person, with a view to the discovery of stolen, contraband, or illicit property, or of evidence of guilt to be used in the prosecution of a criminal action for some crime or offense with which one is charged. Newberry v Carpenter, 107 Mich 567, 65 NW 530.

Inspection of a home by a health officer. District of Columbia v Little, 85 App DC 242, 178 F2d 13, 13 ALR2d 954. [2]

1. An inspection conducted by a law enforcement officer, acting under legal authority, of one’s person, premises, or belongings for the purpose of discovering stolen, contraband, or illicit property as evidence of guilt, to be used in a criminal prosecution. [3]

     Excerpt from Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 16, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 1877 (1968):

     “It must be recognized that whenever a police officer accosts an individual and restrains his freedom to walk away, he has ‘seized’ that person.  And it is nothing less than sheer torture of the English language to suggest the careful exploration of the outer surfaces of a person’s clothing all over his or her body in an attempt to find weapons is not a ‘search.’ [1]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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