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- v.5(6); 2015 Jun
Seizures and Epilepsy: An Overview for Neuroscientists
Carl e. stafstrom.
1 Division of Pediatric Neurology, Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287
2 Division of Neurology, Department of Pediatrics, Sainte-Justine Hospital, Universite Montreal, Montreal, Quebec H3T 1C5, Canada
Epilepsy is one of the most common and disabling neurologic conditions, yet we have an incomplete understanding of the detailed pathophysiology and, thus, treatment rationale for much of epilepsy. This article reviews the clinical aspects of seizures and epilepsy with the goal of providing neuroscientists an introduction to aspects that might be amenable to scientific investigation. Seizures and epilepsy are defined, diagnostic methods are reviewed, various clinical syndromes are discussed, and aspects of differential diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis are considered to enable neuroscientists to formulate basic and translational research questions.
This overview of basic clinical aspects of seizures and epilepsy—including their classification, diagnosis, and treatment—will enable neuroscientists to formulate and refine key research questions that advance the field.
This article provides an overview of seizures and epilepsy for neuroscientists. We focus on broad concepts, rather than clinical details, and raise questions related to mechanisms, epileptogenesis, and therapeutic approaches that might generate interest among basic researchers. Further information about differential diagnosis, drug doses, and clinical management are available from numerous resources ( Engel and Pedley 2008 ; Duchowny et al. 2012 ; Engel 2013 ).
We first define seizures and epilepsy and summarize their classification, pathophysiology, and genetics. Diagnostic methods are then considered, including the importance of an accurate historical description of an event suspected to be a seizure and the appropriate use of ancillary/confirmative tests, such as electroencephalogram (EEG), neuroimaging, and genetic studies. These modalities enable the clinician to differentiate epilepsy from numerous clinical conditions that mimic seizures, but have a nonepileptic pathophysiological basis. Examples of epilepsy syndromes are then described, selected based on their frequency in the population or because they embody scientific questions that warrant elucidation. Finally, we provide an overview of treatment options and prognosis, including a consideration of conditions that accompany epilepsy (comorbidities) and complicate the daily lives of people with epilepsy. Subsequent articles in this collection explore the scientific basis of many of the clinical concepts introduced here.
DEFINITIONS AND EPIDEMIOLOGY
A “seizure” is a paroxysmal alteration of neurologic function caused by the excessive, hypersynchronous discharge of neurons in the brain. “Epileptic seizure” is used to distinguish a seizure caused by abnormal neuronal firing from a nonepileptic event, such as a psychogenic seizure. “Epilepsy” is the condition of recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Epilepsy has numerous causes, each reflecting underlying brain dysfunction ( Shorvon et al. 2011 ). A seizure provoked by a reversible insult (e.g., fever, hypoglycemia) does not fall under the definition of epilepsy because it is a short-lived secondary condition, not a chronic state.
“Epilepsy syndrome” refers to a group of clinical characteristics that consistently occur together, with similar seizure type(s), age of onset, EEG findings, triggering factors, genetics, natural history, prognosis, and response to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). The nonspecific term “seizure disorder” should be avoided.
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurologic conditions, with an incidence of approximately 50 new cases per year per 100,000 population ( Hauser and Hersdorffer 1990 ). About 1% of the population suffers from epilepsy, and about one-third of patients have refractory epilepsy (i.e., seizures not controlled by two or more appropriately chosen antiepileptic medications or other therapies). Approximately 75% of epilepsy begins during childhood, reflecting the heightened susceptibility of the developing brain to seizures.
CLASSIFICATION OF SEIZURES AND EPILEPSIES
The most recent International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) classification of epileptic seizures and epilepsies (epilepsy syndromes), published in 2010, revises past classifications using terminology and concepts appropriate for the modern era ( Berg et al. 2010 ; Berg and Millichap 2013 ; Muro and Connolly 2014 ). Seizures are divided into three categories: generalized, focal (formerly called partial), and epileptic spasms. Focal seizures originate in neuronal networks limited to part of one cerebral hemisphere. Generalized seizures begin in bilateral distributed neuronal networks. A seizure can begin focally and later generalize. Seizures can originate in the cortex or in subcortical structures. Using a detailed history, EEG findings, and ancillary information, a physician can often categorize the seizure/epilepsy type, after which an appropriate diagnostic evaluation and treatment plan is formulated.
The main subtypes of generalized seizures are absence, generalized tonic–clonic (GTC), myoclonic, and atonic ( Table 1 ). Absence seizures (formerly called petit mal) involve staring with unresponsiveness to external verbal stimuli, sometimes with eye blinking or head nodding. GTC seizures (formerly called grand mal) consist of bilateral symmetric convulsive movements (stiffening followed by jerking) of all limbs with impairment of consciousness. Myoclonic seizures consist of sudden, brief (“lightning-fast”) movements that are not associated with any obvious disturbance of consciousness. These brief involuntary muscle contractions may affect one or several muscles; therefore, myoclonic seizures can be generalized or focal. Atonic seizures involve the loss of body tone, often resulting in a head drop or fall.
The clinical manifestations of a focal seizure depend on the area of cortex involved. For example, a focal seizure arising from the occipital lobe may present with visual phenomena; from the precentral gyrus, with rhythmic clonic or tonic motor activity; and from the postcentral gyrus, with sensory symptoms, such as paresthesias. When consciousness is impaired during a focal seizure, that is, the patient is unable to respond normally to verbal or tactile stimuli, the seizure is classified as dyscognitive (formerly called complex partial); seizures arising from the temporal lobe are often dyscognitive. Some seizures are preceded by an aura, which is a focal seizure wherein a patient retains awareness and describes motor, sensory, autonomic, or psychic symptoms. An aura precedes a focal dyscognitive or generalized seizure by seconds or minutes and is most often experienced by patients with temporal lobe epilepsy.
The origin of the third category of seizure type, epileptic spasms, is uncertain. Epileptic spasms are manifest by sudden extension or flexion of extremities, held for several seconds, and then recur in clusters. Epileptic spasms can occur at any age; when they begin in the first year of life, they comprise a syndrome called infantile spasms (IS) (West syndrome [WS]; see below).
Epilepsies (epilepsy syndromes) ( Table 2 ) were previously classified according to their onset site (generalized or related to a specific cortical localization) and etiology, that is, whether the cause was known (symptomatic) or not known (idiopathic). Here, we use the 2010 revised guideline for classification of seizures and epilepsy ( Berg et al. 2010 ). The updated system takes into account expanding knowledge of structural and genetic causes, and includes the ictal semiology (seizure type), syndrome diagnosis (if present), and degree of functional impairment. New classification schemes will continue to evolve as knowledge about epilepsy pathophysiology, and genetics emerges.
Examples of epilepsy syndromes according to age of onset
a Considered an “epileptic encephalopathy,” whereby seizures themselves contribute to cognitive impairment.
PATHOPHYSIOLOGY AND GENETICS
A seizure can be conceptualized as occurring when there is distortion of the normal balance between excitation (E) and inhibition (I) in the brain ( Stafstrom 2010 ). This E/I imbalance can result from an alteration at many levels of brain function, from genes and subcellular signaling cascades to widespread neuronal circuits. The factors that alter E/I balance can be genetic or acquired. Genetic pathologies leading to epilepsy can occur anywhere from the circuit level (e.g., abnormal synaptic connectivity in cortical dysplasia) to the receptor level (e.g., abnormal γ-aminobutyric acid [GABA] receptor subunits in Angelman syndrome) to abnormal ionic channel function (e.g., potassium channel mutations in benign familial neonatal epilepsy [BFNE]). Similarly, acquired cerebral insults can alter circuit function (e.g., structural alteration of hippocampal circuitry following prolonged febrile seizures or head trauma). The developing brain is particularly prone to seizures for a variety of physiological reasons (see Berkovic 2015 ). Even in the normal developing brain, excitatory synaptic function develops before inhibitory synaptic function, favoring enhanced excitation and seizure generation. In addition, early in life, the neurotransmitter GABA causes excitation rather than inhibition ( Ben-Ari 2002 ; Pitkänen et al. 2015 ). These observations partly explain why the very young brain is especially susceptible to seizures. However, seizures cause less structural damage in the developing brain than in the adult brain ( Holmes and Ben-Ari 1998 ).
There has been a recent explosion of new information about the genetic basis of epilepsy syndromes. Both monogenic and polygenic mutations can lead to epilepsy ( Poduri and Lowenstein 2011 ). Many epilepsies have a complex genetic basis with multiple gene defects contributing to a state of altered cellular excitability, which underlies epilepsy. For example, copy number variants, which are de novo or inherited deletions or duplications >1 kb, are increasingly recognized as a source of genetic mutations in patients with epilepsy ( Mullen et al. 2013 ; Olson et al. 2014 ). As genetics knowledge expands, there is hope that syndrome-specific therapeutic interventions can be designed ( Thomas and Berkovic 2014 ).
History and examination.
The history and neurologic examination are the cornerstones of the diagnosis of seizures and epilepsy, whereas laboratory evaluations serve as adjunctive tests. Important historical features include the clinical context in which the seizure occurred, including premonitory signs, details of the seizure itself, such as phenomenology, responsiveness, focal features, and the postictal state. Further inquiry centers on whether an epilepsy syndrome is present, guides the nature and extent of the evaluation, and determines treatment and prognosis.
The neurological examination assesses focal signs that might implicate or localize cerebral pathology. For example, increased tone on one side of the body could indicate pathology in the contralateral hemisphere, such as a cortical dysplasia. The general physical examination is also important to determine whether the patient has an underlying condition. For example, abnormal skin markings could indicate a neurocutaneous disorder in which epilepsy is common, such as tuberous sclerosis or neurofibromatosis.
An EEG is a recording of the brain’s electrical activity. It can detect abnormal electrical activity, such as focal spikes or waves (consistent with focal epilepsy), or diffuse bilateral spike waves (consistent with generalized epilepsy). A routine EEG will, preferably, include wakefulness, drowsiness, and sleep because the prevalence of epileptiform abnormalities varies in these different states of consciousness. Hyperventilation and photic stimulation are activation procedures performed during an EEG to increase the yield of epileptic activity. Having a patient hyperventilate for 3 min has a high yield of leading to an absence seizure, related to the seizure-provoking effect of alkalosis ( Schuchmann et al. 2006 ). Photic stimulation may elicit paroxysmal epileptiform activity or even a generalized seizure in a person susceptible to generalized epilepsy ( Verrotti et al. 2012 ). Simultaneous video-EEG monitoring for hours to days can increase the diagnostic yield or differentiate an epileptic seizure from a nonepileptic event. The EEG can be repeatedly normal in someone with epilepsy, especially if seizures begin in the frontal or temporal lobe. In such cases, intracranial EEG monitoring, usually in the context of presurgical evaluation, may be necessary to define a seizure focus. The diagnosis of epilepsy is based on clinical information and the EEG should be regarded as confirmatory, not diagnostic. The standard teaching is “treat the patient, not the EEG.” An exception to this guideline is absence epilepsy in which brief generalized bursts of spike-wave activity, even if not associated with obvious clinical changes, imply a high likelihood of absence seizure recurrences that can go unrecognized.
Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are important adjuncts to the clinical examination and EEG in the evaluation of a person with seizures. Neuroimaging techniques are especially sensitive for central nervous system (CNS) structural lesions. Focal neurologic findings on examination (e.g., unilateral weakness, asymmetric reflexes) mandate neuroimaging.
MRI is more likely to show an abnormality in a patient with focal seizures, abnormal neurologic findings, or focal discharges on EEG. MRI is more sensitive than CT and is therefore preferred, especially for the detection of cortical malformation, dysgenesis, or hippocampal sclerosis. Quantitative, computer-assisted volume analysis of the temporal lobes may detect asymmetries that are not readily apparent on visual analysis of the scan. CT is valuable in the acute setting to detect hemorrhage, calcification, or tumors.
Several new imaging techniques are available to aid in the assessment of epilepsy ( Kim et al. 2010 ). MRI abnormalities can be correlated directly with EEG activity. Functional MRI (fMRI) takes advantage of blood oxygen level dependence (BOLD) to image neuronal activation and map interictal or ictal epileptiform activity and localize language and memory. Magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy measures the concentrations of a variety of neurochemicals in different brain regions and can sometimes assist in localizing a seizure focus. Positron emission tomography (PET) images the brain’s regional use of glucose with asymmetries suggesting areas of interictal or ictal abnormality. Single-photon emission-computed tomography (SPECT) compares local blood flow discrepancies, information that is most useful when recorded during a seizure. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) assesses the brain’s dynamic electromagnetic fields and can better localize epileptic dipoles, including those tangential to the scalp, which can be missed by conventional EEG ( Caruso et al. 2013 ). These advanced modalities are used mainly in epilepsy centers for presurgical evaluations ( Kay and Szaflarski 2014 ).
The type of seizure and syndrome dictates the extent of the metabolic workup ( Pearl 2009 ). For example, a child with IS or Lennox–Gastaut syndrome is more likely to have a metabolic or degenerative disorder than one presenting with simple partial seizures. In metabolic disorders, seizures are typically accompanied by other abnormalities, such as developmental delay, unexplained vomiting, or coma. In neonatal seizures, a metabolic evaluation is mandatory, including a screen of serum amino acids and urine organic acids, and blood lactate to screen for mitochondrial disease. In addition to its more common use to evaluate CNS infection, cerebrospinal fluid can be analyzed for glucose transporter defects (GLUT1 deficiency syndrome) ( Pearson et al. 2013 ) and rare (but sometimes treatable) neurotransmitter defects ( Pearl et al. 2007 ).
As the genetic basis of epilepsies becomes progressively unraveled, clinical testing will occupy an increasingly pivotal role in the clinic ( Michelucci et al. 2012 ; Olson and Poduri 2014 ). At this point, genetic testing is available for several single genes, as well as complex genetic disorders (see Coulter and Steinhäuser 2015 ; Vezzani et al. 2015 ). A basic karyotype can be performed to evaluate for a chromosomal anomaly, especially in a patient with dysmorphic features. If a specific syndrome is suspected, an epilepsy panel of selected genes can be ordered (e.g., SCN1A for Dravet syndrome [DS]). Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) microarray evaluates targeted chromosomal regions for copy number variants. When a genetic diagnosis is highly suspected, but other work up is unrevealing, the clinician can consider whole exome sequencing of the patient and parents, a technique with rapidly expanding clinical use, especially in epileptic encephalopathies of unknown etiology ( Olson et al. 2014 ).
SELECTED EPILEPSY SYNDROMES
The most recent ILAE epilepsy classification dispenses with the dichotomies used in the 1989 classification (generalized vs. localization related, idiopathic vs. symptomatic) in favor of an organization according to pathogenesis (genetic vs. structural/metabolic/autoimmune) and age of onset ( Berg et al. 2010 ). Examples of epilepsy syndromes are now provided. Details of epilepsy syndromes not described here can be found elsewhere ( Engel and Pedley 2008 ; Nabbout and Dulac 2008 ).
Electroclinical Syndromes with Age-Related Onset
BFNE is a neonatal epilepsy syndrome in which seizures begin in the first week of life. Seizures are focal clonic or focal tonic, often accompanied by apnea. They usually stop after a few days or weeks. Except for seizures, the infants are normal and evaluation fails to detect an etiology. The key to the diagnosis is a family history of newborn or infantile seizures that resolved. The prognosis of BFNE is good, although ∼10%–15% of affected infants continue to have seizures beyond the neonatal period, even into adulthood ( Steinlein et al. 2007 ).
BFNE is the first epilepsy syndrome to be explained by a mutation in a voltage-gated ion channel gene. BFNE has been linked to two genes: KCNQ2 on chromosome 20q and KCNQ3 on chromosome 8q. These genes code for voltage-gated potassium channel subunits, which regulate the M-current, a muscarine-activated neuronal current that turns off potassium channels ( Rogawski and Bazil 2008 ). The M-current stabilizes resting membrane potential; its dysfunction leads to increased neuronal excitability and seizures. It is not known why seizures in BFNE affect neonates and then resolve because the genetic defect is present throughout life.
WS is characterized by the triad of epileptic spasms (usually during infancy, when it is called IS), an interictal EEG pattern called hypsarrhythmia, and intellectual disability. WS is an age-specific disorder, beginning primarily in the first year of life; the peak age of onset is between 4 and 6 mo. The duration of an epileptic spasm is intermediate between a myoclonic jerk (which is briefer) and a tonic seizure (which is more sustained). Spasms often occur in clusters of head nods, forceful flexion, or extension of the trunk and limbs. They frequently occur during sleep transitions, especially on awakening.
The interictal EEG pattern in WS is called hypsarrhythmia, a disorganized, “chaotic” pattern of very high voltage slow waves and spikes over multiple cortical areas. The classic ictal EEG pattern is a generalized slow wave followed by background voltage attenuation in all channels (“electrodecremental response”), accompanied by a clinical spasm.
Most cases of WS have an identifiable cause, such as hypoxia-ischemia, intracranial hemorrhage, CNS infection, developmental brain anomaly, or inborn metabolic error. Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) has an especially high incidence of IS (up to 50% of TSC patients).
Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and corticosteroids are the primary drugs used to treat IS. The anticonvulsant mechanism of ACTH is not known; it may work via the hypothalamic-pituitary axis or directly affect neuronal membrane excitability ( Stafstrom et al. 2011 ). Vigabatrin, a GABA transaminase inhibitor, is highly effective for spasms in children with TSC. Infants with focal-onset spasms, such as those caused by cortical dysplasia, may benefit from resective surgery.
WS is an epileptic encephalopathy with a poor prognosis. At least two-thirds of affected children have intellectual disability. With age, the seizures often change from spasms to other seizure types, such as those seen in Lennox–Gastaut syndrome (see below). Several animal models of IS have been reported recently, raising hope that elucidating the pathophysiology of IS will lead to more efficacious treatments ( Stafstrom 2009 ; Swann and Moshe 2012 ; Lado et al. 2013 ).
Febrile Seizures Plus
Children with febrile seizures plus (FS + ) (formerly called generalized epilepsy with febrile seizures plus [GEFS + ]) have febrile seizures beyond the age at which febrile seizures usually stop (∼5 yr). In addition, these children may develop additional afebrile seizure types, including GTC, absence, and myoclonic. Therefore, this syndrome differs from ordinary febrile seizures (see below) and represents a genetic predisposition to epilepsy. In FS + , the outcome is variable; seizures resolve in some children, but persist in others. In different families, genetic defects have been identified in neuronal sodium channels ( Escayg et al. 2000 ) and GABA receptors ( Macdonald et al. 2010 ). Many patients with FS + have mutations in the α1 subunit of the voltage-gated sodium channel gene, SCN1A ( Steinlein 2014 ).
DS, previously called severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy, is a rare epilepsy syndrome in which children present with seizures before 18 mo of age ( Dravet et al. 2005 ). The initial seizure often occurs with a fever and has a hemiclonic semiology. Later, other seizure types occur and the child shows developmental regression. Seizures tend to be refractory to medications, although stiripentol has shown some efficacy; sodium channel blockers must be avoided.
About 70%–80% of patients with DS have a mutation in the SCN1A gene, mostly sporadic, with haploinsufficiency causing nonfunctional sodium channels. Therefore, the spectrum of SCN1A mutations in epilepsy spans from mild (FS + –missense mutations) to severe (DS–truncating mutations) ( Escayg and Goldin 2010 ). The presence of SCN1A mutations in multiple epilepsy syndromes has generated considerable research interest. Mice with knockout of SCN1A replicate many clinical features of DS ( Oakley et al. 2011 ). The cellular defect may be abnormal sodium channels in cortical interneurons, allowing increased firing of downstream excitatory pyramidal neurons, which are released from inhibitory control ( Yu et al. 2006 ). Several laboratories are pursuing potential methods to remediate the effect of the SCN1A mutation ( Liu et al. 2013 ; Lenck-Santini and Scott 2015 ).
Lennox–Gastaut syndrome (LGS) begins between the ages of 1 and 6 yr. Patients develop medically intractable seizures (up to hundreds per day), constituting an epileptic encephalopathy. LGS characteristics include: (1) slow spike-wave EEG pattern (1.5–2.5 Hz), (2) intellectual disability, and (3) multiple seizure types (e.g., tonic, GTC, atypical absence, atonic, tonic, myoclonic).
Tonic seizures consist of periods of sustained muscle contractions and are especially frequent during sleep. Atonic (astatic) seizures, or drop attacks, occur without warning and often result in head or face injuries. Atypical absences occur frequently in children with LGS. These have a gradual onset and cessation during which the child appears confused with behavioral arrest. It can be difficult to tell when one seizure ends and the next one begins because alertness and activity level may not improve between epileptiform bursts, which occur in long runs during wakefulness and even more frequently during sleep.
Children with LGS are already handicapped neurologically. The numerous LGS etiologies overlap those of WS and include hypoxic brain injury, cerebral dysgenesis, and neurocutaneous disorders. The encephalopathy in the majority of children with LGS is static, although a degenerative disorder, such as neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, can present as LGS.
Seizures in LGS patients are notoriously refractory to AEDs. Drug therapy is individualized to seizure type and frequency ( Hancock and Cross 2013 ). Patients may benefit from valproate, clonazepam, lamotrigine, topiramate, rufinamide, lacosamide, clobazam, or felbamate. Because of the intractability of the seizures, there is a tendency to place patients on multiple AEDs. This polypharmaceutical approach often causes drug toxicity with somnolence, fatigue, nausea, ataxia, and rarely results in optimal seizure control.
Children with LGS have a poor neurologic prognosis. Over time, the atonic, myoclonic, and atypical absence seizures may decrease, but GTC seizures increase and partial seizures emerge. In addition to debilitating seizures, intellectual impairment hinders children with LGS from leading independent lives. The lack of an experimental model hinders progress in this disorder. One potentially informative animal model mimics atypical absence seizures ( Cortez et al. 2001 ).
Landau–Kleffner syndrome (LKS) (acquired epileptic aphasia) is a rare epilepsy in which a child loses previously acquired language abilities because of seizures or epileptiform abnormalities on EEG. In its pure form, LKS occurs in previously normal children with normal language development who gradually lose the ability to understand spoken language and produce speech ( Landau and Kleffner 1957 ). More recently, the syndrome has expanded to include behavioral and cognitive deterioration, including autistic symptoms. Regression of social and language skills is frequently seen in children with autism, with or without accompanying seizures, so the differentiation of autism and LKS can be difficult. In LKS, compared with autism, social skills are better preserved. The pathophysiology of LKS is unknown. Imaging studies are generally negative although PET studies have shown bitemporal abnormalities, supporting the hypothesis that language-related brain regions are dysfunctional in LKS ( Issa 2014 ).
EEG abnormalities in LKS may include generalized, focal, or multifocal spikes or spike waves. If focal, discharges commonly involve one or both temporal or perisylvian regions. One hypothesis is that the epileptiform discharges interfere with language production; alternatively, both the language dysfunction and EEG abnormalities might be independent consequences of the same underlying brain pathology. Successful treatment of the seizures or EEG discharges is not usually accompanied by language or behavioral improvement. The outcome is variable; some children recover completely, usually in adolescence, whereas others have persistent aphasia in adulthood. The seizures usually respond readily to AEDs (e.g., valproate, benzodiazepines), although the language impairment does not ( Van Bogaert 2013 ). Treatment with steroids or subpial resection is controversial.
Childhood Absence Epilepsy (CAE)
Absence seizures, characterized by staring and diminished responsiveness, can be part of several epilepsy syndromes, including CAE and juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME). Note that “absence” refers to both a seizure type and an epilepsy syndrome. CAE onset is between 4 and 10 yr of age. The seizures start abruptly and, generally, last from 5 to 20 sec. When a seizure ends, the patient immediately resumes prior conversation or activity. Because absence seizures are brief and nonconvulsive, they can be easily missed or misdiagnosed.
The frequency of absence seizures varies from a few to hundreds per day. Stress and fatigue increase their frequency. Most children with typical absence seizures have a normal neurologic examination and intelligence, although school performance may be impaired if seizures are frequent.
The EEG background is normal, whereas the seizure itself is accompanied by generalized 3-Hz spike-wave complexes. This EEG abnormality is a marker for genetic susceptibility to absence epilepsy. Hyperventilation is a potent activator of absence seizures, and this simple test is used in the clinic to diagnose absence seizures and assess treatment effectiveness.
The pathophysiology of absence seizures involves altered function of thalamocortical circuits, with thalamic relay neurons firing abnormally owing to calcium channel dysfunction ( Cain and Snutch 2013 ). Ethosuximide and valproic acid (VPA) are effective for treating absence seizures ( Glauser-Menachem et al. 2013 ). Both drugs block low-threshold calcium currents in thalamic neurons ( Coulter et al. 1989 ). CAE (and other genetic generalized epilepsies) has a complex genetic basis with only a few percent transmitted monogenically. The prognosis of CAE is good with ∼75% of children outgrowing the absence seizures during adolescence.
JME is an epilepsy syndrome that typically begins in adolescence and consists of myoclonic or GTC seizures in an otherwise normal individual. The myoclonic jerks may cause the patient to drop or fling objects, especially in the morning. GTC seizures occur in as many as 90% of patients with JME, and the syndrome often presents with these. The myoclonic and GTC seizures often occur soon after awakening. Up to 35% of patients with JME also have absence seizures. Seizures are exacerbated by fatigue, sleep deprivation, and alcohol use.
The neurologic examination and intelligence are usually normal in JME. Multifactorial inheritance is presumed. Some studies have linked JME to chromosome 6p, a locus that appears to be dominantly inherited, but a responsible gene has not yet been identified, and this mutation accounts only for a small fraction of patients ( Michelucci et al. 2012 ).
The interictal EEG in JME shows characteristic bursts of fast (3.5- to 6-Hz) spike-wave complexes. Photic stimulation may activate these epileptiform discharges. Valproate is the most effective AED, but, in females, other broad-spectrum AEDs are preferable (levetiracetam, lamotrigine). Long-term treatment is usually required.
Epilepsy Syndromes Caused by Structural/Metabolic/Autoimmune Causes
Epilepsy syndromes, previously called “symptomatic localization-related,” are those in which seizures arise in a focal brain region caused by an acquired or congenital lesion. Etiologies include tumor, scar (e.g., hippocampal sclerosis), cortical dysplasia, porencephalic cyst, and vascular malformation. The seizure semiology is related to the region of brain affected; seizures often begin focally and then generalize. The interictal EEG will show focal spikes, sharp waves, or slowing, related to the area of brain involved. If neuroimaging results, EEG evidence of seizure onset, and ancillary data (e.g., neuropsychological findings) align, surgical intervention is considered.
Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
The syndrome of mesial temporal sclerosis is a pertinent example of a structural lesion (hippocampal scarring), in which seizures often become intractable and for which surgery is a viable option ( Thom et al. 2010 ; Bernhardt et al. 2013 ). Seizures originate in the medial temporal region with such manifestations as posturing, altered responsiveness, and memory/behavior change. Spread of seizure discharges beyond the hippocampus is common. Seizures often become intractable and affective comorbidities are frequent. When two medications fail, a surgical evaluation should be undertaken. Extensive laboratory investigation has been performed to understand the mechanisms of seizure genesis and spread. Impaired GABAergic inhibition, enhanced synaptic excitation via axonal sprouting, and changes in ion channel distribution and function have all been implicated in the pathophysiology of temporal lobe epilepsy, and genetic factors may also play a role ( Liu et al. 1995 ; Buckmaster 2004 ; Dudek and Sutula 2007 ; Joshi et al. 2013 ).
Childhood Hemispheric Epilepsy Syndromes
Some important childhood epilepsy syndromes involve an entire hemisphere. Rasmussen’s encephalitis is a focal encephalitis that affects only one hemisphere and results in progressive hemiparesis, intractable epilepsy (focal seizures that can progress to become continuous, called epilepsia partialis continua), and cognitive decline ( Varadkar et al. 2014 ). Rasmussen’s encephalitis might have an autoimmune basis, but the exact etiology has not been defined. The unilateral pathology may be a result of focal breakdown of the blood–brain barrier. Neuroimaging shows progressive unilateral cortical atrophy. Another hemispheric syndrome, Sturge–Weber syndrome (SWS; encephalotrigeminal angiomatosis), consists of a hemispheric vascular malformation, leading to intractable epilepsy and hemiparesis. Mutations in GNAQ , a gene governing angiogenesis, have recently been identified in SWS ( Shirley et al. 2013 ). Some authorities feel that early surgery (hemispherectomy) affords a better prognosis in hemispheric epilepsy syndromes ( Hartman and Cross 2014 ).
Metabolic, Mitochondrial, and Autoimmune Epilepsies
Epilepsies caused by a metabolic, mitochondrial, or autoimmune etiology are increasingly recognized. Any alteration of neuronal energy metabolism or use could result in E/I imbalance and seizures. The role of autoantibodies to a variety of cellular proteins in patients with heretofore undiagnosed neurological deterioration is shedding new light on the ways in which epilepsy can manifest ( Davis and Dalmau 2013 ; Miya et al. 2014 ; Holmes 2015 ).
Neonatal seizures, occurring in the first 30 d of life or before 44 wk postconception in premature babies, represent a special class because of their age-specific characteristics, wide range of etiologies, and unique pathophysiology. Seizures may be the first and only sign of CNS dysfunction in a newborn, so their recognition is critical.
Four types of neonatal seizure semiology are described based on behavioral observations: subtle, generalized tonic, focal or multifocal clonic, and myoclonic. Subtle seizures may include repetitive oral-buccal-lingual movements, such as sucking, pedaling movements of the legs or arms, or eye deviation. Subtle seizures are often associated with severe CNS insults. Neonatal tonic seizures involve posturing with intermittent tonic extension of the arms and legs; they are usually associated with severe brain lesions and most often occur in preterm infants. Clonic seizures consist of rhythmic jerking of groups of muscles in a focal or multifocal pattern. In multifocal clonic seizures, movements migrate from one part of the body to another. Focal seizures may be seen with localized brain malformations or insults, such as a perinatal stroke, as well as in disorders affecting the brain diffusely, such as asphyxia, metabolic derangement, or infection. As a result of immature myelination and cortical organization, the neonatal brain is unable to sustain generalized epileptiform discharges, so GTC and absence seizures do not occur.
Simultaneous video-EEG monitoring can help to differentiate behaviors with EEG correlates (“epileptic seizures”) from behaviors that do not have associated EEG changes. Focal clonic seizures have the highest correlation with EEG ictal abnormalities. Many behaviors considered to be subtle seizures on clinical grounds (e.g., chewing or pedaling movements) have no associated EEG abnormalities, suggesting that these behaviors are not epileptic in nature. Subtle or tonic seizures may represent brainstem dysfunction or epileptic seizures originating from deep subcortical structures not recordable on surface EEG.
The neonatal EEG is usually not specific for a particular etiology, but it may supply clues about the severity and time course of a CNS insult. Epileptic discharges often occur without overt clinical manifestations (“uncoupling” of electrographic and clinical seizures). For prognostic purposes, EEG background patterns and sleep–wake cycles are especially important. Amplitude-integrated EEG (aEEG) is a new technique allowing continuous bedside sampling of a limited number of EEG channels; aEEG is proving to be quite reliable in documenting probable seizure events ( Glass et al. 2013 ).
Establishing the etiology of a neonatal seizure is critical because the cause determines the therapy and is highly correlated with outcome. Major causes of neonatal seizures include hypoxic-ischemia (H-I), hypocalcemia, hypoglycemia, hyponatremia, intracranial hemorrhage, infection, congenital malformations, genetic factors, inherited metabolic disorders, and drug withdrawal. H-I, mostly occurring before delivery, is the most common cause of neonatal seizures.
The decision to treat an infant with recurrent seizures is based on the seizure duration and frequency, associated autonomic dysfunction, etiology, and EEG abnormalities. If seizures are brief and not associated with autonomic instability, treatment may be deferred or the infant treated with a short-acting benzodiazepine. Conversely, neonates with frequent seizures, especially if they interfere with ventilation, require prompt and vigorous treatment.
Phenobarbital has been the primary drug used to treat neonatal seizures, but it is effective <50% of the time ( Painter et al. 1999 ). Phenobarbital or phenytoin sometimes suppresses clinical seizures, but electrographic seizures continue (“uncoupling”). Any drug that targets GABA receptors (barbiturates, benzodiazepines) may be ineffective or even exacerbate seizures because of the depolarizing action of GABA in the neonatal brain ( Staley 2006 ; Berkovic 2015 ; Pitkänen et al. 2015 ). Active research is attempting to untangle the role of potassium-chloride cotransporters and their developmental profile in the GABA depolarizing-to-hyperpolarizing switch; inhibitors of these cotransporters might have clinical utility ( Löscher et al. 2013 ). Newer AEDs, such as levetiracetam, may be effective, but there is an urgent need for more effective neonatal seizure treatments.
Febrile seizures occur in children from ∼6 mo to 5 yr of age. Although the exact pathophysiology is unknown, febrile seizures represent an age-dependent response of the developing brain to fever. There is a genetic association, with febrile seizures occurring 2–3 times more frequently in affected families than in the general population. Overall, febrile seizures occur in 2%–5% of children in the susceptible age range.
The two main types of febrile seizures are: (1) simple, and (2) complex or complicated. Simple febrile seizures are brief (<15 min), generalized, and do not recur within 24 h of the first one. Complicated febrile seizures are either prolonged (>15 min), have focal components (e.g., begins on one side of the body or involves lateralized eye deviation), or recur within 24 h. Simple febrile seizures do not require treatment, nor do most complicated febrile seizures.
A child who has had a single simple febrile seizure has a 33% chance of another febrile seizure with a subsequent fever. If a child has had two simple febrile seizures, there is a 50% chance of a third febrile seizure. The recurrence risk for additional febrile seizures is greatest if a child has had a first febrile seizure <12 mo of age or there is a family history of febrile seizures.
The more concerning risk is for the development of afebrile seizures (epilepsy). A significant proportion of adults with temporal lobe epilepsy (caused by mesial temporal sclerosis) had a prolonged febrile seizure as a child ( Patterson et al. 2014 ). After a simple febrile seizure, the risk for epilepsy later in life is only slightly higher than for the general population, ∼2%. The risk of developing epilepsy after febrile seizures varies up to ∼9% and is greatest if the child has preexisting neurologic impairment, such as developmental delay or cerebral palsy, a family history of epilepsy, or a complicated febrile seizure (prolonged, focal, recurrent) ( Pavlidou and Panteliadis 2013 ).
An ongoing multicenter study (FEBSTAT) is investigating the consequences of febrile status epilepticus in a large cohort using longitudinal clinical and MRI data ( Lewis et al. 2014 ). A complete understanding of febrile seizures will also require animal models to gain greater insight into the effects of hyperthermia and fever-related immunological changes in the developing brain ( McClelland et al. 2011 ).
NONEPILEPTIC DISORDERS THAT MIMIC SEIZURES
Numerous paroxysmal behaviors mimic epileptic seizures by history or clinical presentation ( Obeid and Mikati 2007 ). A few of the more common disorders are mentioned here. It is important to distinguish epileptic from nonepileptic behaviors because some nonepileptic phenomena respond to medications other than AEDs and others require no specific treatment other than reassurance or avoidance of the circumstances that precipitate the spell.
Nonepileptic Seizures (NES)
NES, also called psychogenic seizures or pseudoseizures, are paroxysmal changes in motor activity or behavior that resemble epileptic seizures, but have no EEG correlate. Although they are not epileptic seizures, NES can be disabling and often reflect major underlying psychopathology ( Lortie 2013 ).
NES present with a variety of clinical forms. Many resemble GTC seizures, but the two sides of the body are more likely to jerk out of phase with each other. GTC activity in the setting of preserved consciousness favors a nonepileptic event. However, caution is warranted as some behaviors previously thought to be NES are actually epileptic events. For example, seizures originating in the supplementary area (SMA) of the frontal lobe involve bilateral motor activity with preserved consciousness. Compared with NES, SMA seizures are briefer, more stereotyped, and often occur during sleep. Seizures originating in the orbitofrontal region are now recognized to include screaming, affective changes, such as intense fear, bilateral nonrhythmic limb movements, and even sexual automatisms, for example, pelvic thrusting. Such behaviors were previously considered to reflect NES. These observations underscore the difficulty of differentiating between epileptic seizures and NES on clinical grounds. Video-EEG monitoring is helpful to separate the two entities. Of note, NES and epileptic seizures may coexist in the same patient.
The patient and family are assured that the symptom (seizure) is “real,” but does not involve abnormal neuronal discharges, so therapy is designed to address the underlying psychological issues. The main therapeutic goal is to teach the patient alternative coping skills, so that anxiety or psychological stress does not manifest in such a maladaptive fashion ( LaFrance et al. 2013 ). The pathophysiology of NES is uncertain, and an important research question is how and why psychological stress results in seizure-like behaviors.
Breath-Holding Spells (BHS)
Despite their name, BHS are involuntary reflex responses. BHS are maximal in preschoolers and are, typically, outgrown by school age. Two types of BHS are cyanotic (also called cyanotic infantile syncope) and pallid (also called pallid infantile syncope or reflex anoxic seizures).
Cyanotic BHS, the more common type, are precipitated by anger or frustration. The hallmark is crying, during which the child will stop breathing (in expiration), become cyanotic, and lose consciousness. At that point, the child may become rigid, limp, or even shake, raising concern about a seizure. The pathogenesis of cyanotic BHS is complex, probably involving an interaction between hyperventilation, Valsalva maneuver, expiratory apnea, and intrinsic pulmonary mechanics.
Pallid BHS are more likely to be provoked by fright or an unpleasant stimulus (such as mild trauma). A gasp is followed by loss of consciousness, pallor, bradycardia, diaphoresis, and limpness. Pallid BHS result from vagus nerve-mediated cardiac inhibition, causing diminished cerebral blood flow.
Neither type of BHS is associated with an increased predisposition to epilepsy, although seizure activity can occur at the end of a BHS. These “seizures” manifest as tonic stiffening of the extremities, sometimes with brief clonic jerking, and are not epileptic. Instead, they represent the brain’s response to acute hypoxia. They terminate spontaneously and do not require anticonvulsant treatment. Evaluation with an EEG is usually not needed. An electrocardiogram is obtained to rule out prolonged QT syndrome. Management of BHS consists mainly of reassurance that the spells will be outgrown.
Syncope (fainting) can usually be distinguished from an epileptic seizure by history. Attacks may be preceded by warning (presyncopal) signs, such as lightheadedness, blurred vision, pallor, nausea, or diaphoresis. These warning signs are followed by a loss of consciousness and slow slump to the ground, as opposed to a more abrupt fall seen with a myoclonic or atonic seizure. Late in a syncopal spell, there may be a brief tonic or clonic seizure secondary to cerebral hypoperfusion and hypoxia; these are not epileptic seizures. Consciousness is regained rapidly, compared with a more prolonged postictal state after an epileptic seizure. The seizure that follows BHS or syncope engages neural circuitry that produces GTC activity, but the mechanisms underlying this hypoxia-related seizure activity warrant further clarification.
Syncope is caused by transient reduction of cerebral blood flow as a result of an irregular heart rate (an arrhythmia causing decreased cardiac output), decreased venous return (orthostasis or Valsalva), or vasovagal mechanism (fright, pain, emotional upset). Vasovagal attacks often occur in a hot environment. The EEG is usually normal. The key to treatment is the avoidance of precipitating factors.
Parasomnias are sleep disorders that sometimes mimic seizures. Night terrors, a common parasomnia, occur in children from 18 mo to 8 yr of age. In early (non-REM) sleep, the child awakens with inconsolable screaming, sweating, and nonrhythmic flailing of extremities, followed by return to sleep and no memory of the episode. There is often a family history of night terrors. The diagnosis is based on clinical history; video-EEG is rarely needed. The main differential diagnosis is nightmares (that occur during REM sleep) and nocturnal epileptic seizures of frontal lobe origin. The predisposition to epileptic seizures during sleep-state transitions, increased epileptiform activity in sleep, and risk of seizures with sleep deprivation all indicate an intimate relationship between sleep and epilepsy that is in need of further research.
Epilepsy is more than spontaneous recurrent seizures and should be considered a spectrum disorder. For many patients and families, the burden of the disease is largely caused by comorbid conditions, including behavioral and psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, and autism. These comorbidities, previously considered to be secondary to uncontrolled seizures or medication adverse effects, are now recognized as an integral part of the disorder, sometimes even preceding the seizures and attributable to an underlying disorder of neuronal networks ( Brooks-Kayal et al. 2013 ). Even a single seizure can alter neurodevelopment by modifying receptor expression and distribution in the absence of neuronal death, leading to cognitive and behavioral changes ( Cornejo et al. 2007 ). Understanding the pathophysiological link between these associated conditions and the epilepsies could have a major impact on the life of people living with epilepsy, and should be considered a research priority.
Depression is the most frequent psychiatric comorbidity and, interestingly, is associated with hippocampal and limbic dysfunction, structures commonly implicated in epileptic circuits. The association between epilepsy and depression is described as bidirectional: epilepsy patients with depression are more frequently refractory and people with epilepsy are more likely to develop depression. About 10% of adults with epilepsy have bipolar disorder and up to 30% have depression ( Kanner 2013 ). These symptoms are also associated with an increased suicide risk. This is also the case in children when symptoms are even less recognizable, but studies have shown that children with newly diagnosed epilepsy are almost three times more likely to have a mood disorder than controls. Anxiety is also difficult to diagnose clinically in patients with epilepsy because of the unpredictable nature of the disease, leading to some form of anxiety.
Nonpsychiatric comorbidities also affect this population. In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Health Interview Survey, adults with epilepsy had a higher prevalence of cardiovascular and respiratory disorders, diabetes, inflammation, obesity, and other disorders (e.g., headache, migraine, arthritis) ( Strine et al. 2005 ). Persons with epilepsy are also at increased risk for early mortality and sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP) ( Surges and Sander 2014 ).
Recently, the impact of seizure medication on bone health has become a major concern. Patients with epilepsy are at high risk for fractures because of lower bone mineral density (BMD) ( Beerhorst et al. 2013 ). Phenytoin, phenobarbital, and carbamazepine appear to be the antiseizure medications that lead to a reduction in BMD via induction of the CYP450 enzyme system results, but osteopenia has also been reported with non-enzyme-inducing AEDs.
TREATMENT: GENERAL PRINCIPLES
With an armamentarium of >20 drugs, up to 70% of newly diagnosed people living with epilepsy can be successfully treated. Drugs used to treat epilepsy work by decreasing the electrical activity of the brain, either by preventing neuronal depolarization by blocking sodium channels or calcium channels, enhancing potassium channel function, inhibiting excitation mediated by the neurotransmitter glutamate, or promoting inhibition mediated by GABA ( Table 3 ) (see Bui et al. 2015 ). The efficacy of these medications varies based on etiology. Patients with no identified etiology are most likely to be controlled, especially if they have a normal developmental history and neurological examination.
Mechanisms of action of selected AEDs
A neurologist’s decision to begin one seizure medication over another is based on seizure type, age, other medical conditions, and potential side-effect profile. Often, a wide-spectrum medication is used as seizure description by a witness may be lacking. Levetiracetam has become very popular in recent years as first-line therapy because of its efficacy, easy titration, and well-recognized side-effect profile. Previously, carbamazepine was the first choice for focal seizures, whereas valproic acid was the first choice for generalized seizures.
As a general principle, medication should be started at a low dose to avoid side effects. Dose increases can be performed at regular intervals if needed. The goal is to control seizures with the lowest dose. When a first drug fails, most clinicians will choose to add on a second drug, later deciding whether or not to withdraw the initial medication. A proper trial is considered to be 2 mo at a therapeutic, well-tolerated dose. Because of drug interactions, combination therapy has the potential of high toxicity; however, some combinations display particular efficacy, such as lamotrigine plus valproic acid for generalized seizures.
Because of their mechanism of action, all seizure medications have CNS side effects. For example, sleepiness is a common side effect of almost all AEDs. Lamotrigine is fairly well tolerated, but requires a very slow dose titration. Some physicians consider stopping a medication if seizures have not recurred over the previous 2 yr or more. If medication fails to control seizures, other options include dietary therapy (ketogenic diet), resective epilepsy surgery (lesionectomy, hemispherotomy), and palliative epilepsy surgery (stimulation therapy, callosotomy). The role of immune therapy for refractory epilepsy is still being defined.
Lifestyle adjustment is a crucial aspect of epilepsy management. Optimizing sleep, improving medication compliance, and reducing stress can significantly improve epilepsy outcome. Also important are prevention efforts to reduce causes of symptomatic epilepsies, such as head trauma, perinatal injury, and brain infections like neurocysticercosis.
Finally, health professionals need to advocate for people with epilepsy. Even today, stigma and discrimination represent significant barriers to a normal life for people living with epilepsy.
Of persons with epilepsy, 60%–70% will see their seizures controlled by medication. In most cases, treatment is deferred until a second seizure occurs. The overall risk of recurrence following a single seizure varies between 27% and 71%. A meta-analysis found that the average risk of seizure recurrence was 40% in prospective studies versus 52% in retrospective studies ( Berg and Shinnar 1991 ). Of these recurrences, 80% occur within the first 2 yr of the initial seizure. Similar numbers are observed in children ( Shinnar et al. 2000 ). As medical treatment has the potential for significant adverse events, the benefits for treatment are clearer after a second unprovoked seizure when the risk of recurrence within 1 yr is doubled ( Hauser et al. 1998 ; Shinnar et al. 2000 ). There is no evidence that early treatment affects long-term prognosis, but the outcome of children who have experienced more than 10 unprovoked seizures before treatment appears worse ( Camfield et al. 1996 ).
About 70% of children will achieve a period of remission of at least 2 yr without a seizure. At that time, one can consider stopping medication, especially if there is no identified underlying etiology and the child is developing well. Of those, 20%–25% will recur either when seizure medication is being withdrawn (50%) or spontaneously ( Sillanpää and Schmidt 2009 ). Of all patients, 37% will have easily controlled seizures from the onset, 25% will have refractory seizures from the onset, and 38% will have a remitting relapsing pattern. Patients with no identified etiology have a better outcome than those with a structural, metabolic, or genetic etiology.
An analysis of 14 AED withdrawal studies found that the recurrence rate following AED discontinuation ranged from 12% to 66% (mean 34%), and reinstatement of treatment was successful in obtaining further remission in ∼80% with no significant differences between age groups. A second remission may, however, take many years to achieve, whereas, in 19%, the reintroduction of medication did not control the seizures as well as before. Up to 23% of those discontinuing treatment go on to develop intractable epilepsy. Risk factors for subsequent poor treatment outcome are symptomatic focal epilepsy and cognitive deficits ( Chadwick et al. 1996 ; Schmidt and Löscher 2005 ). Finally, ∼5% of those with refractory epilepsy will achieve a remission of 12 mo when medication is adjusted, although about one-half will subsequently relapse ( Neligan et al. 2012 ).
This review introduced the concepts of clinical epilepsy to allow neuroscientists to assess the state of the field and formulate relevant research questions. Many clinical conundrums in need of attention by researchers were discussed in a recent opinion paper in which the following topics were deemed ripe for neuroscientific investigation: the roles of genes versus acquired factors in seizure predisposition; how epilepsy develops in an otherwise normal brain and how to prevent the consequences of seizures, for example, following a brain injury (epileptogenesis, neuroprotection); methods to better localize seizure onset and identify at-risk circuits with a goal of surgical intervention; how to predict (and thereby avert) seizure occurrence; optimization of medication for specific ages and epilepsy syndromes; novel methods of drug delivery to vulnerable circuits; and interventions to relieve comorbidities during postictal and interictal periods, which comprise the majority of a patient’s daily function, but disproportionately affect the quality of life ( Fisher 2009 ). Considerable progress has been made, but there is obviously much work remaining.
Editors: Gregory L. Holmes and Jeffrey L. Noebels
Additional Perspectives on Epilepsy: The Biology of a Spectrum Disorder available at www.perspectivesinmedicine.org
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Search and Seizure, Research Paper Example
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Searches and seizures are legal requirements in the criminal and civil law procedures whereby the law enforcing authorities and agents upon suspicion that a crime has been committed carry out a search on one’s properties and thus confiscate any information relevant to the crime under investigation. According to the United States Constitution the law is intended to protect the individuals from unreasonable search and seizure (Toobin, 2008). The Constitution entitles all citizens with reasonable right to privacy and this must be adhered to by all law enforcers in the state. Before carrying out any search and seizure for any suspected, evidence by the law enforcement agents to obtain a search warrant before carrying out any search and seizure on any person’s property is required. Any search and seizure intended to be carried out shall not be subject to violation and warrants shall not be issued unreasonably unless with probable cause with the support of an oath or affirmation describing clearly the place required to be searched, time of search, people to searched or things to be seized.
In this case of William Ellis, it is quit evident that the police relied on the mere allegations given out by Mrs. Stevens the wife to the deceased to make an opinion of searching William’s bedroom. The scene of crime investigators did not at any point obtain a search warrant before entering the room belonging to William Ellis when he was not present or even contact his mother Mary Ellis before conducting the search. Therefore the evidence claimed to have been extracted from William’s room cannot at any legal level be regarded as admissible and it extremely violated the privacy right of the accused. Such mere allegation of Mrs. Stevens against William Ellis unannounced entering into Steven’s townhouse in several occasion and attempt to rape her then would have been supported by the previous records over such claims. Not after when another offence has been committed is when she comes out to say the William Ellis had attempted to get her on her bedroom.
The court should take into consideration that also the warrant of arrest was not valid and the evidence presented against William does amount to connect him to crime committed. Again William Ellis did not give consent voluntarily to the scene of crime investigators before carrying out the search and seizure in his bedroom. Legally before the search could have been conducted the scene of crime investigators may have first obtained an affirmation and consent of the accused. The search would have also been carried out with the presence of the accused or the defendant. The search is then regarded to be obtained illegally and therefore it should be excluded and cannot be required to be used against the defendant at trial. The police officers did not enter to William’s house with the plain view but with the unsubstantiable matters raised by Stevens’ wife. The previous movement of Steven before he could be murdered was not taken into consideration if anyone may have obtained the knife normally used by William without his knowledge when committing the crime. It was not reasonable beyond the level of doubt that the police officers had enough grounds to search the house without the owner’s consent and getting the valid search warrant at the first place. There reason was not probable and nothing necessitated to go very first to get fingerprint from the light switch.
The law enforcement officers violated William’s constitutional right to privacy and therefore any evidence derived from the search and seizure carried out in his house when he was absent and without his own consent should be kept out from the criminal case against him. For instance, where a court case it is found that a police search violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the constitution because of unsupported probable cause on the home of the owner, any evidence extracted may not be use for as evidence against the case and the arrest made is considered to be unlawful. If the police in this case believed that there was a probable reason to find evidence in William’s house in relation to the crime committed then they would have also followed the law before carrying out the search.
A good example in relation to this case is the criminal case where Officer Wiley arrested one suspect Lowe who was allegedly found to have been selling false telephone cards. The court judge ruled that the officer illegally traced and entered Lowe’s house and illegally seized a map that traced him to where Lowe had hidden the phone cards. Even though Officer Wiley found the phone cards in the led location, the map was found to be obtained illegally and hence the search was declared to be illegal. The finding of the phony phone cards which is considered to an offence are regarded to be as a result of that unlawful search and therefore the evidence presented was found to be inadmissible before the court (Diane, 2007).
There are instances where the rule of obtaining the search warrant may optional before conducting the search and seizure. For example, when the owner of the house is present and voluntarily consents to the police officer upon request, the search and seizure may be regarded as legal. In some cases for instances restaurant management, the third party mandated to be in charge of the property intended to be search may also give the consent. But the after the consent has been given, the owner of the property or the third party in charge must be present and observing as the search is conducted. For the case of William Ellis who was not present at the time of doing the search, his mother who he share the house with was present and before the search was to be conducted she would have been ask to consent first. Nobody was present from the defendant party when the scenes of crime investigators were seizing the house. Therefore, the case gives out clear evidence that there was a great violation of the constitutional rights of the defendants.
For the case of William Ellis, the search was not justifiable and the seized evidence may not connect the defendant to the crime that was committed. The court is not expected to allow the prosecution to continue using the search and seize evidence gathered from William Ellis’ house that was illegally searched. Mrs Ellis was the first to know about the death of Steven and immediately called the police. And since they were neighbors she had every reason to get worried the reason why she was quite distraught. Her evidence to the prosecution should be of great importance being the first person to arrive at the scene of crime. She would have first confirmed whether the knife used for investigations was the one she first saw on the man (Diane, 2007).
The exclusionary rule
In the criminal prosecution if the court finds out that an unreasonable search was conducted and any evidence was seized resulting from the search could not be used as admissible evidence against the accused person. However, being established in 1961 by the U.S. Supreme Court the rule has been embraced to the present as the “exclusionary rule” (Retrived from criminal-law-30183.html.).
A lot of criticism has been forwarded that exclusionary rule is unfair because it sets the criminals free just because of the search and seizure are considered to be illegal. This will limit police officers from conducting searches and seize evidence if the evidence found could not be used to achieve a conviction of the defendant (Greenburg, 2007).
The fruit of the poisonous tree
Under the legal rule that has come to be known as the “fruit of the poisonous” evidence used against the defendant, the evidence that was resulted from the illegal search and seizure may not under any reasonable used to reveal other evidences. This is like arresting a person to lead to the arrest to the other person believed to have committed the offence. The first arrest leading to the other is very much illegal and unconstitutional to one’s rights. The “tree” is considered to be that evidence which the police officers obtained from the illegal search and seizure at the first point and the “fruit” is the emerging product from the illegal seized evidence.
Diane, S. S., (2007). “Of a Judiciary Nature”: Observations on Chief Justice Roberts’s First Opinions, 34 Pepp. L. Rev. 1027.
Greenburg, C., (2007). Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of Struggle for Control of US Supreme Court. N Y: Penguin Press
Toobin, J., (2008). The Nine: Inside the Secret World of Supreme Court . N Y: Doubleday.
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Title: scalable extraction of training data from (production) language models.
Abstract: This paper studies extractable memorization: training data that an adversary can efficiently extract by querying a machine learning model without prior knowledge of the training dataset. We show an adversary can extract gigabytes of training data from open-source language models like Pythia or GPT-Neo, semi-open models like LLaMA or Falcon, and closed models like ChatGPT. Existing techniques from the literature suffice to attack unaligned models; in order to attack the aligned ChatGPT, we develop a new divergence attack that causes the model to diverge from its chatbot-style generations and emit training data at a rate 150x higher than when behaving properly. Our methods show practical attacks can recover far more data than previously thought, and reveal that current alignment techniques do not eliminate memorization.
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Search and Seizure Research Paper
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In any free society, the police must be constrained. The constraint can come from a variety of sources—politics, bureaucratic culture, administrative sanctions, and so forth. It need not necessarily come from the law. And in most Western democracies, it does not come from the law; outside the United States, police seem to be regulated, where they are regulated, mostly through nonlegal means.
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For much of its history—until 1961, to be precise—the same held true of the United States.
Since that date, however, American law has played a very large role in regulating the police and reining in police misconduct. And the chief source of legal restraint is the law of search and seizure.
That law has three key features. First, it is constitutional. The basic standards that limit police investigation of crime—the standards that define when police can search a home, or seize a suitcase believed to contain drugs, or arrest a suspect for some crime—derive from the Fourth Amendment to the federal constitution. Because judges are the prime interpreters of the constitution, this means search and seizure law is basically judge-made. Because constitutional law is binding on popularly elected legislatures and executives, it means search and seizure law cannot be altered by elected politicians, state or federal. In the United States, to a degree that probably has no parallel elsewhere, judges—especially Supreme Court Justices—decide what rules the police must follow. Congress, state legislatures, and the police themselves must live with the rules these judges and Justices create.
Second, its chief business is protecting privacy. The dominant focus of the law of search and seizure is to limit what police can see and hear, to limit their ability to invade spaces people prefer to keep private. That is not the only interest the law protects, but it clearly is the interest that the law protects most. Other concerns—the potential for police violence, the harm to individual liberty that comes from arrest or street detention, discriminatory treatment of black and white suspects—receive much less attention from judges and Justices in Fourth Amendment cases.
Third, it is police-focused. Government gathers information about people in a variety of ways, through a variety of agents. Grand juries subpoena witnesses and documents; prosecutors interview suspects; administrative agencies inspect wetlands and workplaces. These things receive only slight legal regulation; with few exceptions Fourth Amendment law ignores them. That law’s clear focus is on police searches and arrests. It is not too much to say that Fourth Amendment law is a kind of tort law for the police; it is the body of civil liability rules that limit day-to-day police activities. Police must therefore pay close attention to Fourth Amendment rules; other government officials can usually ignore them.
The Fourth Amendment: Origins, Text, and History
Like most of the rest of the Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment has its origins in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English common law. Unlike the rest of the Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment’s origins can be traced precisely—it arose out of a strong public reaction to three cases from the 1760s, two decided in England and one in the colonies.
The two English cases are usefully treated as a pair. Both Wilkes v. Wood , 19 Howell’s State Trials 1153 (C.P. 1763), and Entick v. Carrington , 19 Howell’s State Trials 1029 (C.P. 1765), involved pamphleteers charged with seditious libel for criticizing the king’s ministers and, through them, the king himself. In both cases, agents of the king issued a warrant authorizing the ransacking of the pamphleteers’ homes and the seizure of all their books and papers. (An aside is necessary at this point: Warrants are means of giving government officials permission to search or arrest someone whom they otherwise might not be allowed to search or arrest. In American practice, warrants are issued only by judges or magistrates after reviewing an application from a police officer. In eighteenth-century England, warrants were sometimes issued by agents of the Crown on their own initiative.) These searches were duly carried out. Wilkes and Entick sued for damages, claiming that the warrants were void and that the searches pursuant to them were therefore illegal. Both Wilkes and Entick won, with powerful opinions issued by Lord Camden, the judge in both cases. These decisions made Camden a hero in the colonies; a number of towns and cities were named after him because of his opinions in Wilkes and Entick .
The third case was the Writs of Assistance Case (see Dickerson, 1939). British customs inspectors seeking to stamp out smuggling in colonial Boston were given blanket search warrants, called writs of assistance, that permitted them to search anyplace where they thought smuggled goods might be. (The writs also allowed the inspectors to compel private citizens to help them carry out the searches—hence the writs’ name.) Some Boston merchants, represented by James Otis, sued, seeking a holding that the writs were invalid. The merchants lost, but Otis’s argument, with its ringing defense of individual privacy, became famous and strengthened opposition to British rule. John Adams later said of Otis’s argument that ‘‘then and there the child Independence was born.’’
Historians generally agree that the Fourth Amendment was designed to affirm the results in Wilkes and Entick , and to overturn the result in the Writs of Assistance Case . Three principles seem to follow. First, the government should not be allowed to search without some substantial justification, some reason to believe the place being searched contains the evidence being sought. That was the problem with the writs of assistance—they authorized searches based on no more than the unsupported suspicion of the inspector. Second, searches, particularly of private homes, should not go beyond their justification. That was the problem with the searches in Wilkes and Entick —the authorities did not simply search for and seize illegal writings, but took all the books and papers in the suspects’ houses. Third, the government should not use blanket warrants to evade the first two principles. That was a problem in all three cases. English common law held it a trespass to invade someone’s home without some kind of authorization; the warrants in Wilkes and Entick and the writs of assistance looked like efforts to evade that common law right. This explains why, at the time of the Founding era, search warrants—now viewed as a protection against police overreaching—were seen as more of a danger than a safeguard.
Notice that none of these three cases involved ordinary criminal law enforcement. None stemmed from the investigation of a murder, or a robbery, or a rape. Rather, each involved the investigation and prosecution of what might fairly be called dissidents—ordinary law-abiding citizens who disagreed strongly with the laws they were disobeying, and who enjoyed some substantial support among the citizenry. It is not at all clear from the Fourth Amendment’s history that James Madison and his contemporaries wished to restrict the investigation of ordinary crimes; indeed, it is not clear that they even thought about the investigation of ordinary crimes.
Notice, too, that none of these cases involved searches by people whom we would recognize today as police officers. Police forces did not exist in the eighteenth century, either in England or in the colonies. It follows that the Framers could not possibly have thought about how best to regulate them. The Fourth Amendment’s central role—reining in the police— is a role that it assumed much later. This point counsels in favor of a certain modesty when seeking to extract contemporary lessons from the Fourth Amendment’s historical context.
The Fourth Amendment’s Text
The Fourth Amendment, along with the other provisions of the Bill of Rights, was proposed by James Madison. The version that was ultimately ratified (Madison’s original version was slightly different) reads as follows:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The first clause—lawyers usually call it the ‘‘reasonableness clause’’—contains a simple prohibition: unreasonable searches and seizures are forbidden. It leaves the key term, ‘‘unreasonable,’’ undefined. The second clause, usually called the ‘‘warrant clause,’’ places a set of limits on the issuance of search or arrest warrants. Three limits are listed: the warrants must be supported by probable cause, they must define where the search is to take place, and they must define what the object of the search is—who or what is to be seized.
This text nowhere requires the government to get search or arrest warrants—the second clause limits the use of warrants, but never says when, if ever, the government must use them. So far as the text of the Fourth Amendment is concerned, the police apparently may search or seize without a warrant, as long as the search or seizure is reasonable. This is unsurprising given the Fourth Amendment’s origins. Madison and his contemporaries were chiefly concerned with preventing a recurrence of searches like the ones in Wilkes and Entick; the safest way to do that was to severely limit the use of warrants. Requiring them was apparently not on the Framers’ agenda.
Subsequent History to 1961
For a century and a half after it was ratified, the Fourth Amendment (like the rest of the Bill of Rights) applied only to the federal government; state and local police were not bound by it. During most of this period, federal criminal investigation and prosecution was rare—there was no F.B.I., and no army of federal prosecutors—so there was little opportunity for Fourth Amendment litigation. As a consequence, Fourth Amendment law basically lay dormant until Prohibition in the 1920s, which for the first time produced a large and active federal enforcement bureaucracy. By that time, three important changes had taken place. First, the Supreme Court had adopted the exclusionary rule (in Weeks v. United States , 232 U.S. 314 (1914)), which held that illegally seized evidence ordinarily could not be used in criminal trials. The source and rationale of that rule are discussed in a separate entry. Second, during the course of the nineteenth century search warrants had come to be seen as a way of limiting police authority, not as means by which the government could evade legal restriction. This is a natural development: once the Fourth Amendment placed stringent limits on warrants, requiring warrants became a good way to ensure that police had good reasons for searching. Accordingly, one sees frequent discussion in Prohibition-era cases of the importance of requiring police to get advance permission from a magistrate, in the form of a warrant, before searching. Third, probable cause had become the generally applicable legal standard for searches. ‘‘Reasonable’’ searches meant searches supported by probable cause—which meant, roughly, a fair likelihood that the evidence searched for would be found in the place searched.
Thus, by the end of the 1920s, Fourth Amendment law had assumed the following structure. Probable cause was required for all searches or arrests. A warrant, obtained in advance, was required at least for searches of homes, and possibly for many other searches as well. (Curiously, arrests for serious crimes were not thought to require warrants, a rule that still holds today.) And these rules were enforced primarily by an exclusionary rule, so that when the police violated the rules, any evidence they found would be inadmissible in a subsequent criminal trial.
These rules still applied only to the federal government. That state of affairs changed when, in Wolf v. Colorado , 338 U.S. 25 (1949), the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment was part of the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause against infringement by state and local officials. Twelve years later, in Mapp v. Ohio , 367 U.S. 643 (1961), the Supreme Court gave teeth to Wolf by imposing the exclusionary rule on the states. Henceforth local police, who are the primary enforcers of American criminal law, would be subject to the same search and seizure rules as F.B.I. agents, and to the same penalty for violating those rules.
It is not too much to say this worked a revolution in the way American police are themselves policed. Before 1961, local police were subject to state constitutional limits and could be sued for common law trespass (just like the offending officials in Entick and Wilkes ). But these limits were illusory: state constitutions went unenforced, and common law claims against police officers virtually were never brought. Consequently, there was no working law of search and seizure, no body of rules that officers felt bound to obey, outside the federal system. Local police were restrained, if they were restrained at all, by local custom or politics. Law played no real part in their regulation.
This posed more of a danger to some suspects than to others. At the time Mapp was decided, it was widely (and surely correctly) believed that local police, especially in the South, treated black suspects much more harshly than white ones. And blacks could not protect their interests through the political process, because they were often either denied the right to vote or frozen out of governing coalitions. Although the opinions in Mapp do not make this point explicitly, it seems likely that one of the reasons—perhaps the primary reason—for the Supreme Court’s assertion of regulatory control over local police was the desire to protect black suspects from unfair treatment at the hands of nearly all-white police forces. In this way, Fourth Amendment law, which began as a tool for protecting upperclass pamphleteers and smugglers, had become a means of protecting a poor minority against oppression by police forces dominated by a middleclass (white) majority.
The law Mapp imposed on local police forces was basically the same law that had been imposed on federal agents enforcing Prohibition in the 1920s: probable cause for searches and arrests, with warrants required for searches unless the police had a good excuse for not getting one. Perhaps because of a coincidence in timing—at about the time Mapp was decided, crime rates began skyrocketing, with the number of serious felonies trebling in the course of the next decade—these rules came to seem too burdensome for increasingly busy local police. (Rising crime also meant rising public hostility to the Supreme Court’s efforts to regulate the criminal process, which was seen as ‘‘handcuffing’’ police and prosecutors.) Beginning in 1968, the Supreme Court moved to relax these rules in two key ways. First, in Terry v. Ohio , 392 U.S. 1 (1968), the Court permitted police to ‘‘stop and frisk’’ suspects on the street based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, a lesser standard than probable cause. Terry involved suspicion of an about-to-be-committed robbery, but the Court soon applied its reasonable suspicion standard to past crimes and, most importantly, to drug crime. With these extensions, Terry meant that officers could briefly detain people, but not arrest them, based on fairly low-level suspicion of crime—the sort of suspicion that might come from spending time in the company of ‘‘known’’ drug dealers at places where drug trafficking is believed to be common.
The second change involved the warrant requirement. In a series of decisions stretching from the early 1970s to the early 1990s, the Court created or expanded various exceptions to the warrant requirement. For example, searches of cars were exempt, as were searches incident to arrest, as were inventory searches (these involved the inspection and cataloging of a suspect’s belongings when he is taken into custody). These various exceptions, taken together, meant that the warrant requirement applied to searches of houses and apartments, but almost never applied to anything else. For searches and seizures outside private homes, police were still bound by the probable cause or reasonable suspicion standards, but no advance permission to search was required.
The creation and expansion of ‘‘stop and frisk’’ doctrine and the contraction of the warrant requirement were both contentious; Fourth Amendment decisions in the 1970s and 1980s gave rise to some of the most heated arguments the Supreme Court has ever seen. Defenders of Fourth Amendment law’s classical structure, primarily Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, argued passionately that it was important to preserve probable cause, not the softer reasonable suspicion standard, as the primary standard for searches and seizures; they also argued for a broad warrant requirement to provide an extra check on police overreaching. But these arguments generally lost, and the structure that had emerged by the early 1990s is now fairly stable. The key characteristics of that structure are the subject of the next part.
The Current Structure of Search and Seizure Law
Search and seizure law today is built around three key questions. First, did the police ‘‘search’’ or ‘‘seize’’ anyone or anything? If not, the law leaves police action basically unregulated. If so, what justification must the police have— probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or (in rare cases) something else? Finally, what process must the police follow—must they seek permission in advance from a magistrate, or can they search first and defend themselves in a suppression hearing later?
The Definition Of ‘‘Search’’ and ‘‘Seizure’’
The most important of these questions may be the first one, for if a given police tactic is not a ‘‘search’’ or ‘‘seizure’’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, the police are free to use that tactic when and on whom they wish, free of legal constraint.
‘‘Searches,’’ in Fourth Amendment law, are police tactics that infringe a ‘‘reasonable expectation of privacy.’’ A reasonable expectation of privacy is the kind of expectation any citizen might have with respect to any other citizen. A fair translation of this standard might go as follows: Police can see and hear the things that any member of the public might see and hear, without fear of Fourth Amendment regulation. Only when police cross that line, only when they see and hear things that members of the public would not be allowed to see and hear, has a ‘‘search’’ taken place.
A few examples might clarify the standard. Eavesdropping on telephone conversations is a ‘‘search.’’ Overhearing a conversation on the street is not. Climbing over a backyard fence is a ‘‘search.’’ Observing the same backyard from the window of an airplane is not. Hiding in the bushes outside a house and looking inside is a ‘‘search.’’ Standing on a public street and looking through open curtains into a living room is not. Opening a briefcase to inspect its contents is a ‘‘search.’’ Observing someone carrying a briefcase on the street is not.
When applying the reasonable-expectation-of-privacy standard, courts ask whether, at the moment the police officer observed the illegal behavior, he was in a position any member of the public might have been in. The duration and intensity of police observation does not matter. Thus, police officers can stake out a private home, taking up residence across the street and watching all comings and goings for a period of days or even weeks, and that behavior does not constitute a ‘‘search,’’ because at any given moment, any member of the public might have been looking. And police can follow a suspect’s movements along public streets, in shops or restaurants, and so forth; once again, such behavior is not a ‘‘search’’ (even though it amounts to something like stalking), because any member of the public might have seen any given transaction in public.
One other feature of the definition of ‘‘search’’ bears mention. Consensual transactions are not ‘‘searches,’’ even if consent was given under false pretenses. So if a police officer poses as a drug buyer, and a suspect lets him into the suspect’s house in order to sell him drugs, anything the officer sees and hears in the house is fair game—no Fourth Amendment ‘‘search’’ has taken place. The use of undercover agents is thus routinely permitted by search and seizure law, whether or not the police have good reason to suspect the person with whom the undercover agent is dealing of any crime. Also, if a police officer asks permission to look in a suspect’s car or briefcase, and the suspect says yes, once again no ‘‘search’’ has taken place. This last point is particularly important. Police officers exert a certain amount of force just by virtue of their status. For many, perhaps most, a request from a police officer will sound like a command; the tendency will be to say yes whether one wants to or not. Nevertheless, if the police officer asks, and the suspect says yes, that almost always amounts to consent. Only if the officer behaves unusually coercively— if he pulls his weapon, or grabs hold of the suspect, or the like—will a court find that the consent was involuntary.
All these rules sound complicated; in practice, they are relatively simple. In general, the police are ‘‘searching’’ when they are either committing some kind of trespass—grabbing a suspect’s briefcase and looking inside, breaking into a house or apartment, climbing over a backyard fence—or are engaged in some kind of electronic eavesdropping—for example, wiretapping a phone. Most of the rest of what police do to gather information falls outside the Fourth Amendment.
‘‘Seizures’’ are harder to define. The Supreme Court says that a suspect has been ‘‘seized’’ if a reasonable person in the suspect’s shoes would not feel free to leave. If the Court took its own language seriously, every conversation between a police officer and a citizen would be a ‘‘seizure.’’ After all, few people, when approached on the street by an officer, feel free to turn on their heels and walk away. The consequences of that position would be huge; the police would need some adequate justification for every interaction.
Not surprisingly, the law does not operate that way in practice. The working standard seems to be roughly the same as the standard for consent. The dispositive question is this: Did the police officer behave coercively (not counting the coercion that is inherent in a police officer questioning a suspect)? If so, the encounter is a ‘‘seizure.’’ If not, it is not. Compared to the definition of ‘‘search,’’ which has acquired a good deal of definition over the years, the definition of ‘‘seizure’’ remains remarkably vague and openended. Conversations on the street between police officers and citizens often begin as consensual conversations; at some point the encounter often becomes a ‘‘seizure.’’ Neither the officer nor the suspect—nor, for that matter, courts—know precisely when that point is.
Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion
When the police have searched or seized someone, the Fourth Amendment requires some justification. With rare exceptions, the justification takes one of two forms: either the police must have probable cause, or they must have reasonable suspicion. The following paragraphs explain what these standards mean, and to what cases each standard applies.
Probable cause has never received a clear definition in the cases; the Supreme Court has said, unhelpfully, that an officer has probable cause to arrest when ‘‘the facts and circumstances within [the officers’] knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information [are] sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed’’ Brinegar v. United States , 338 U.S. 160, 175–76 (1949). What that means in practice seems to be, roughly, more likely than not. Thus, probable cause to arrest requires enough information to show that the suspect probably committed the crime. Probable cause to search requires enough information to show that evidence of crime can probably be found in the place to be searched.
One issue that regularly arises in the cases is whether police can rely on tips from informants to establish probable cause. Informants are sometimes ordinary citizens who call into police stations with useful information; more commonly they are criminals themselves who report information about other criminals in return for some favors—sometimes leniency, sometimes cash—from the police. Informants are common in police work, and especially in the policing of drug markets. (The leading study of search warrants shows that jurisdictions with the most drug cases also make the most use of informants’ tips.) Such tips are clearly useful to the police; they equally clearly pose significant problems. Informants may have some incentive to frame rivals, or to concoct whatever information will get them the greatest reward from the police. And since the identity of the informant is almost always confidential—for obvious reasons, informants tend to insist on anonymity—there is some risk that police will make up phony informants to justify their own hunches. For these reasons, the Supreme Court in the 1960s and 1970s placed serious restrictions on the use of informants’ tips to generate probable cause.
Those restrictions were largely removed in 1983, in Illinois v. Gates , 462 U.S. 213 (1983). The Court in Gates held, basically, that informants’ tips were to be treated like any other information. And the Court specifically approved findings of probable cause where an informant’s tip is partially corroborated—as where the informant says a suspect will be driving a certain car at a certain time and place and will be carrying drugs, and the officer confirms that the suspect was indeed driving that car at that time and place.
Like probable cause, reasonable suspicion is not well defined in the cases. Indeed, the only thing one can confidently say about it is that reasonable suspicion means something less than probable cause. Just how much less is unclear. A good indication of the kind and level of information required is the following common fact pattern. A police officer, on foot or in his car, turns a corner on a city street in an area known as a locale for drug trafficking. A young man standing on a street corner sees the officer, turns, and runs in the other direction. The officer knows nothing about the young man other than that he was in a place where crime was common, and that he ran when he saw the police. Does the officer have reasonable suspicion?
In Illinois v. Wardlow , 120 S.Ct. 673 (2000), the Supreme Court said the answer is yes. Likewise, if police see a suspect in a place where drugs are often sold, and if the suspect has a series of brief conversations with people the police know to be drug users, most courts would say the police have reasonable suspicion. In these cases the police have some ground for suspecting criminality, but not a great deal. Reasonable suspicion is meant to capture that intermediate condition. To what cases do these standards apply? Probable cause is the governing standard for arrests, and for searches of homes, cars, or personal effects. For arrests, the standard is probable cause to believe the suspect has committed a crime; for searches it is, with one important exception, probable cause to believe evidence will be found in the place sought. The exception is for searches ‘‘incident to arrest.’’ When the police make a valid arrest, they are permitted to search the suspect’s person, any belongings he has with him, and his car; if the arrest occurs at home, they may search the area within his immediate control. These searches incident to arrest are legal if the arrest is legal. Thus, probable cause to arrest authorizes not only arrests but also a good many searches.
Reasonable suspicion is the governing standard for brief stops, as where an officer detains a pedestrian for a few minutes or pulls over a car in order to ask the driver a few questions. Reasonable suspicion of the presence of a weapon is the standard for very brief searches, such as a pat-down or frisk of a suspect’s outer clothing. In practice, reasonable suspicion of the presence of a weapon tends to follow from reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. At least for serious crimes, judges tend to find that suspicion of the crime entitles the police to frisk the suspect in order to detect any weapons. The officer is, of course, entitled to check the contents of the pockets if this frisk turns up anything that might be a weapon. Naturally, the line between lumps that might be weapons and lumps that might be evidence of crime (drugs, for example) is a fine one. As a result, frisks for weapons tend to turn into frisks for either weapons or evidence.
The authority to frisk, or conduct a brief search, based on reasonable suspicion extends beyond the suspect’s clothing. If the suspect is in a car, the officer is entitled to briefly look through the car’s interior. If the suspect is carrying a purse or briefcase, the officer can briefly look inside, long enough to ensure that it does not contain a gun. And any evidence the officer finds during the course of such inspections is admissible.
Thus, given reasonable suspicion, officers can briefly detain pedestrians or pull over drivers of cars. Given reasonable suspicion of the kind of crime often associated with weapons, officers can briefly look around the car’s interior, frisk a suspect’s outer clothing, and open any containers (such as a purse or bag) that the suspect might reach to check for weapons. More extensive searches and seizures require probable cause.
Special Cases—Police Use of Force and Group Seizures
There remain two important categories of cases where neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion applies. The first is police use of force, where the standard is higher than probable cause. The second is group seizures such as roadblocks, where the standard is lower than reasonable suspicion.
At common law, the police could use whatever force necessary to apprehend suspects and to bring them under control. If suspected of a felony, and if he fled, the suspect could be killed. These doctrines were still in force as late as the 1980s; not until 1985 did the Supreme Court decide that a higher standard was required for police use of force against suspects.
In that case, Tennessee v. Garner , 471 U.S. 1 (1985), the police shot and killed a fleeing burglary suspect; there was no reason to believe the suspect was armed or had threatened serious physical harm to anyone. The Court concluded that the shooting was unreasonable, and hence violated the Fourth Amendment. The Court ruled that deadly force was permissible only given some immediate danger of death or serious physical injury. Immediate danger is presumed if the police have probable cause to believe the suspect has caused or threatened death or serious injury, and if the suspect has been warned to stop but refuses to do so. The standard for using nondeadly force is both less demanding and less certain: the Supreme Court says only that officers must behave reasonably, taking account of the danger the suspect poses, the kind of crime he is suspected of committing, and the amount of force necessary to bring him under control.
These standards governing police use of force receive much less attention in the courts than the standards governing police frisks or house searches, because use-of-force claims are litigated much less frequently. The reason has to do with remedies. The primary remedy for Fourth Amendment violations is the exclusionary rule; the huge majority of Fourth Amendment claims arise as efforts by criminal defendants to suppress illegally obtained evidence. But when police beat or shoot a suspect, they are not looking for evidence. Thus, excessive force claims only rarely lead to efforts to suppress evidence; the exclusionary rule is essentially irrelevant to these claims.
Instead, excessive force claims arise either as claims for damages by the victim (or the victim’s next-of-kin), or as criminal prosecutions of the offending officers. The latter happen only very rarely. Damages claims are more frequent, but still amount to a very small fraction of the number of exclusionary rule claims. Which explains why the law of excessive force is so much less developed than, say, the law of car searches or street stops.
Group searches and seizures are the second category of cases that fall outside the probable cause and reasonable suspicion standards. Here the law is both complex and unclear. In United States v. Martinez-Fuerte , 428 U.S. 543 (1976), the Supreme Court permitted the use of highway checkpoints near the border to check for illegal immigrants; at these checkpoints all cars were stopped and all drivers seized, even though the government had no reason to suspect any particular driver of harboring illegal aliens. Similarly, in Michigan Highway Department v. Sitz , 496 U.S. 444 (1990), the Court ruled that officers may set up roadblocks to catch drunk drivers, even though the officers have no ground for suspecting any particular driver of any wrongdoing. But in Indianapolis v. Edmond , 121 S.Ct. 447 (2000), the Court barred the use of roadblocks designed to catch drug violators. For now, the government can apparently seize (and perhaps search) all members of a group in pursuit of goals other than ordinary criminal law enforcement (border control in Martinez-Fuente , highway safety in Sitz ). But it cannot use power as a routine crime control tactic.
Drugs may fall on either side of this boundary. In Edmond , drug checkpoints were banned. But the result has been different in a number of cases involving drug testing. Government agencies sometimes seek to require periodic testing of employees, without any showing that any given employee was reasonably suspected of drug use or other misconduct. These testing programs have sometimes prevailed in the courts and sometimes not; the usual approach is to ask whether there is some ‘‘special need’’ to test the category of employees in question. The idea is similar to the idea behind Martinez-Fuerte and Sitz: In support of these testing programs, the government often claims suspicionless testing is permissible as long as many people are tested; that is, as long as no one person is singled out. If that argument were applied to tactics like group fingerprinting or DNA testing, it would considerably expand the scope of police authority. For now, Edmond is holding the line against such an expansion. But the line is unstable. The government can argue, with some force, that its interest in fighting drug crime is at least as strong as its interest in catching drunk drivers. If so, it seems odd that the police would be granted substantially greater power in the latter setting than in the former.
The Role of Substantive Law
Probable cause and reasonable suspicion both refer to a level of probability, a likelihood that some asserted fact— the suspect committed a crime, or evidence of crime will be found in a particular place—is true. The asserted fact always involves crime. It follows that the meaning of probable cause or reasonable suspicion depends on what counts as a crime. To put it another way, to say that the police have probable cause to arrest a given suspect is to say they have reason to believe that the suspect probably violated some criminal statute. Whether the claim is right depends in part on just what behavior criminal statutes forbid. If enough criminal statutes forbid enough conduct, the police will have probable cause to arrest a large portion of the population.
Something much like this was true before the late 1960s. Loitering statutes made it a crime to hang around on street corners; vagrancy statutes made it a crime to be able-bodied but unemployed, or to be a ‘‘rogue’’ or ‘‘vagabond.’’ These open-ended prohibitions plausibly covered a large fraction of ordinary street behavior, at least by people the police might wish to arrest or search. Consequently, the police had something close to blanket authority to arrest or search a large portion of the population. The probable cause standard mattered little.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, most loitering and vagrancy statutes were declared unconstitutional on the ground that they were unacceptably vague. States and cities responded with a wave of statutes and ordinances criminalizing loitering with intent to commit acts of prostitution or drug use; some jurisdictions went farther, passing laws forbidding loitering in the presence of members of gangs that themselves were involved in various sorts of criminal activity. In Chicago v. Morales , 119 S.Ct. 1849 (1999), the Supreme Court struck down one such law, declaring that it was, like older loitering and vagrancy laws, too vague, and that it infringed on individuals’ liberty to wander about on public streets free of official interference.
Morales was not a Fourth Amendment decision; the Court relied on the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment instead. But the Court’s decision may have a large impact on the scope of Fourth Amendment protection. Again, if ‘‘crime’’ covers enough territory, police will have reasonable suspicion or probable cause with respect to most people, and Fourth Amendment standards will, as a practical matter, cease to operate. Morales may suggest that, at least with respect to pedestrians, the Court will not permit that state of affairs to recur.
The story is different when it comes to automobile traffic. In many states, moving violations—speeding, changing lanes without using a turn signal, running a stop sign, and the like— are, technically, crimes. Since such rules are not strictly enforced in most places (to the extent that speeding is the norm on many roads), most drivers are, technically, committing crimes most of the time, which gives the police authority to stop a large fraction of drivers.
That authority can be exercised strategically. If police believe a given suspect is transporting drugs, but they lack the kind of support needed to satisfy the probable cause or reasonable suspicion standards, they can wait for the suspect to run a stop sign, or speed, or violate some other traffic regulation, then pull the suspect over, arrest him for the traffic offense, and search him and his car incident to the arrest—all the while looking for drugs. In Whren v. United States , 517 U.S. 806 (1996), the Supreme Court held that this sort of pretextual police search is permissible. As long as the police have probable cause to believe the suspect is doing something the state defines as a crime, an arrest is legal, and if an arrest is legal, so is a search incident to arrest.
Whren and Morales are thus in some tension. Whren gives police near-blanket authority to stop vehicles; Morales seems to forbid near-blanket authority to stop pedestrians. In both cases, the primary determinant of the scope of police authority is not Fourth Amendment law, but the law that defines crimes.
The Warrant Requirement
All police searches and seizures are subject to legal challenge, but the challenge ordinarily comes after the fact. The officer searches, the defendant moves to suppress evidence found in the search, and the court holds a hearing to determine whether the search was legal. Where a search or arrest warrant is required, by contrast, judicial evaluation of the search or arrest happens in advance. The officer fills out a brief warrant application, with a sworn affidavit stating the facts in support of the application; a magistrate reviews the application, sometimes questioning the officer, and then decides whether to issue the warrant. If the warrant is issued and the search turns up evidence, the defendant can still seek to suppress it, but the court will give substantial deference to the magistrate’s judgment. Thus, Fourth Amendment law knows two procedures for testing the legality of a search: the warrant process before the search, and the suppression hearing after.
In form, the law requires the first of these procedures—warrants—unless some special exception applies. In practice, the exceptions swallow the rule. Warrants are not required for (among other things) arrests outside the suspect’s home, searches incident to arrest (which, remember, cover the suspect’s clothing, car, and belongings at the time of arrest), searches of cars whether or not anyone is arrested, and brief stops or frisks of suspects. These categories encompass the large majority of searches and seizures.
Warrants are required for wiretaps, for searches of homes, and for arrests that take place in a home. Even here, there is an exception for cases where ‘‘exigent circumstances’’ exist— where getting a warrant is impractical because of the danger that suspects will flee or evidence will be destroyed.
The warrant requirement thus applies chiefly when police wish to enter a private home. Elsewhere, police generally are allowed to search first, and face judicial scrutiny afterward. Fourth Amendment law purports to have a warrant requirement with a few narrow exceptions. The true rule is no warrant requirement, with an exception for homes and wiretaps.
In theory, this regime offers an extra measure of protection for house searches. Forcing police to ask permission in advance of a search, and requiring that permission come from a neutral magistrate, should weed out potential searches based on thinly supported police hunches. In practice, it is unclear how much the warrant requirement accomplishes. Most reviews of warrant applications are cursory, and magistrates only hear from one side—the police officer. Not surprisingly, most applications are granted. That, one might think, suggests warrants are something of a sham, a process by which discretionary decisions by police officers are rubber-stamped by magistrates. On the other hand, the leading study of the warrant process suggests the large majority of searches pursuant to warrants turn up evidence of crime. That, one might suppose, suggests warrants work, that they serve as an effective screen. The truth may be somewhere in between these two views, or it may be different in different jurisdictions.
The basic structure of search and seizure law seems fairly stable; large changes are unlikely, at least in the near future. In assessing that structure, it is helpful to focus on two issues. The first goes to the interests the law of search and seizure protects. The second goes to an interest that, for the most part, the law of search and seizure ignores.
The dominant focus of the law of search and seizure is protecting privacy. ‘‘Privacy’’ here has a particular meaning—it is not some generalized right to be let alone; rather, it is the interest in being free from observation, the interest in not being seen or heard. That the law protects privacy in this limited sense is shown by the cases that define ‘‘searches,’’ which cover only police conduct that permits officers to see or hear things that ordinary citizens would not be able to see or hear.
Notice that the interest in liberty receives less protection. Searches of private homes require probable cause and a warrant. Probable cause, with no warrant, suffices for an arrest outside the home—even though an arrest can lead to detention in the police station. The interest in being free from police violence receives, if not less protection, less attention, which may amount to the same thing: The number of excessive force claims brought against police officers is but a small fraction of the number of suppression motions based on allegedly illegal car searches.
The law’s focus on privacy sits uncomfortably together with its focus on regulating the police. Administrative agencies like the Internal Revenue Service arguably invade people’s privacy more than the police—think about the kinds of information people must supply on their tax forms. If one really wished to protect privacy, then, a natural way to do so would be to regulate with some care what questions the IRS can ask and how it can ask them. Yet Fourth Amendment law has almost nothing to say about those topics. At the same time, it has a great deal to say about questions like when the police can inspect the inside of a paper bag, or look inside the glove compartment of a car—trivial privacy invasions, one might think, compared with tax forms. In other words, search and seizure law protects privacy, but only when the police infringe it. That seems an odd way to protect privacy.
And protecting privacy may be an odd way to regulate the police. Police do two things that other government agents—grand juries, prosecutors, or administrative agencies—do not. Police arrest people, which means removing them from their homes and locking them up. And police beat, sometimes shoot, people as a means of obtaining and maintaining control over them. If one were to imagine a body of law whose goal was specially to regulate the police, one might expect that law to focus on those two things: on regulating police ability to deprive suspects of their liberty and, perhaps especially, on limiting police ability to injure or kill suspects. Fourth Amendment law does some of that. But it focuses more on privacy interests, on searches of homes and cars and paper bags, and less on other, perhaps more important goals.
One of those goals might be to eliminate police discrimination on the basis of race. African Americans suffer a disproportionate share of arrests and prison sentences. Much of that disproportion flows from differences in crime rates across population groups, but some of the disproportion may be a consequence of discriminatory targeting of suspects by the police. Perhaps surprisingly, Fourth Amendment law does little to stop that sort of discrimination. Given the breadth of criminal law, police have probable cause to arrest or reasonable suspicion to stop a large portion of the population—when it comes to vehicular traffic, a large majority of the population. Within this pool of potential suspects, police can target whom they wish; Fourth Amendment law basically says nothing about their exercise of enforcement discretion. So if police officers stop large numbers of black drivers, ostensibly for speeding but primarily to check for drugs, and stop few whites, the black drivers have no legal claim.
This is true notwithstanding the fact that a number of courts forbid the use of race as a factor in police ‘‘profiles.’’ Such profiles are common in drug investigations; they basically list factors common to drug couriers in particular markets at particular times. Officially, race is a forbidden factor, but officers can easily take race into account without acknowledging that they do so, and for now, the law tolerates that.
Another form of potential discrimination involves the targeting of some kinds of crimes, and some neighborhoods, more severely than others. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, urban crack markets received more police attention than suburban markets in cocaine powder. Most crack defendants were black; most cocaine powder defendants were white. One could argue that the strong tilt against crack was, on balance, a good thing; one could also argue that it was socially harmful, in part because of the racial composition of the two pools of defendants. Whichever answer is right, the current law of search and seizure leaves the question wholly to the police.
There may be no good alternative to that position. Courts are poorly positioned to direct the allocation of police resources across crimes and neighborhoods, and any serious effort to eliminate discriminatory policing would require precisely that. Still, it seems strange that Fourth Amendment law—the body of law most clearly devoted to regulating the police—has so little to do with what may be the most serious regulatory problem in the world of policing: stamping out race discrimination.
- AMAR, AKHIL REED. ‘‘Fourth Amendment First Principles.’’ Harvard Law Review 107 (February 1994): 757–819.
- AMSTERDAM, ANTHONY ‘‘Perspectives on the Fourth Amendment.’’ Minnesota Law Review 58 (1974): 349–477.
- DICKERSON, O. M. ‘‘Writs of Assistance as a Cause of the Revolution.’’ The Era of the American Revolution. Edited by Richard B. Morris. New York: Columbia University Press, 1939. Pages 40–75.
- KENNEDY, RANDALL. Race, Crime, and the Law. New York: Pantheon Books, 1997.
- LAFAVE, WAYNE Search and Seizure: A Treatise on the Fourth Amendment. 5 vols. St. Paul, Minn.: West, 1995.
- LIVINGSTON, DEBRA. ‘‘Police Discretion and the Quality of Life in Public Places: Courts, Communities, and the New Policing.’’ Columbia Law Review 97 (April 1997): 551–672.
- SKLANSKY, DAVID ‘‘Traffic Stops, Minority Motorists, and the Future of the Fourth Amendment.’’ Supreme Court Review (1997): 271–329.
- STEIKER, CAROL ‘‘Second Thoughts About First Principles.’’ Harvard Law Review 107 (February 1994): 820–857.
- STUNTZ, WILLIAM ‘‘Warrants and Fourth Amendment Remedies.’’ Virginia Law Review 77 (August 1991): 881–942.
- STUNTZ, WILLIAM ‘‘The Substantive Origins of Criminal Procedure.’’ Yale Law Journal 105 (November, 1995): 393–447.
- TAYLOR, TELFORD. Two Studies in Constitutional Interpretation. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1969.
- VAN DUIZEND, RICHARD, et al. The Search Warrant Process: Preconceptions, Perceptions, Practices. National Center for State Courts, Williamsburg, Va., 1985.
- WASSERSTROM, SILAS, and SEIDMAN, LOUIS MICHAEL. ‘‘The Fourth Amendment as Constitutional Theory.’’ Georgetown Law Journal 77 (October 1988): 19–112.
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Handout E: Examples of Search and Seizure Cases
Directions: Apply the principle of rule of law to determine if these search and seizure cases violated Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.
1. Olmstead v. United States (1927)
The police had suspected for several years that Roy Olmstead, a resident of Washington state, was involved in smuggling and selling alcohol in violation of the nation’s Prohibition laws. Without first getting a warrant, the government wiretapped phones that they knew Olmstead used in his business, even though wiretapping itself was a violation of Washington state law. Based on evidence obtained by listening to Olmstead’s conversations, the federal government prosecuted and won a conviction against him for illegally selling alcohol.
Olmstead maintained that the wiretapping amounted to a warrantless search and seizure, and evidence obtained through this illegal search should not be used against him. The prosecutors argued that they had not entered Olmstead’s property or conducted a physical search. The wiretap was completed from the outside of his property by accessing telephone lines that were freely available.
Was this warrantless electronic “search” of Olmstead’s conversations a violation of his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure and his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination? Why or why not?
2. Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
Cleveland police, acting on a tip that a bombing suspect had been hiding in the home of Dollree Mapp, demanded entrance. She asked for their warrant and called her lawyer. After several hours and the arrival of additional officers, police claimed to have a warrant, and officers forced their way into the house.
Mapp still demanded to see the warrant. One officer held up a piece of paper, claiming it was a warrant. She grabbed it and put it inside her clothing. An officer recovered it and they carried out a complete search of the house.
The officers found a trunk of “lewd and lascivious” books, pictures, and photographs in Mapp’s basement, along with documentation related to illegal gambling. Mapp was arrested for violating Ohio’s criminal law prohibiting the possession of obscene materials.
At trial, the court found her guilty of possessing the obscene materials based on the evidence presented by police. No warrant was ever produced.
Dollree Mapp raised a First Amendment claim, saying she had a right to possess the books. But in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justices did not address her First Amendment claim. They instead focused on the warrantless search.
Was this warrantless search of Mapp’s house a violation of her Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure? Why or why not?
3. Florence v. The Board of Chosen Freeholders (2011)
Albert Florence was arrested on a warrant for a traffic violation, even though he had already paid the fine. In jail, he was strip searched twice in seven days. Florence filed a lawsuit against jailers, maintaining that the jailhouse searches were unreasonable because he was being held for failure to pay a fine, which is not a crime in New Jersey. Jail officials argued that it was reasonable to search everyone being jailed, even for minor offenses, and even if there is no suspicion that the person may be concealing drugs or a weapon. The need for jailhouse security, they claimed, outweighed any prisoner’s rights against unreasonable search and seizure.
Did these suspicionless searches violate Florence’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure? Why or why not?
Search And Seizure - List of Free Essay Examples And Topic Ideas
Search and Seizure refers to the practice by law enforcement of searching persons, premises, or vehicles for evidence of crimes and the confiscation of evidence found. Essays might discuss the legal principles surrounding search and seizure, the Fourth Amendment in the US context, notable court cases, and the impact of these practices on justice and civil liberties. A substantial compilation of free essay instances related to Search And Seizure you can find at Papersowl. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.
The First Amendment
The First Amendment does not protect all forms of speech. Although its protections are incredibly diverse and broad, the First Amendment does not protect forms of speech including: “obscenity, fighting words, defamation (including libel and slander), child pornography, perjury, blackmail, incitement to imminent lawless action, true threats, and solicitations to commit crimes” (Freedom Forum Institute, 1). The incorporation doctrine is a constitutional doctrine establishing the Bill of Rights (amendments 1-10) as fundamental rights guaranteed in both federal and state court […]
Constitution of the United States and the Fourth Amendment
The method by which law enforcement should treat people is based on the Bill of Rights section of the Constitution of the United States. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable search by law enforcement. Police must show evidence, that a threat to public safety exists, and probable cause that a crime is, or will be, committed for courts to issue a search warrant. The details of the what, where, when and whom they are searching must be provided. Items […]
The U.S. Constitution
The constitution of the United States was written on the 17th of September in1778, during a convention held in Philadelphia. This was very successful since the government of America and its fundamental laws were established. An increase in Federal authority and basic rights for the Americans was guaranteed through the U.S constitution. Initially, the US government was weak and each state was independently operating like a country. The new government was modified to have three main branches with several balances […]
Elements of Constitutional Law
The four elements of arrest are intent, authority, detention or seizure, and understanding. The rationale of a regulation enforcement officer to arrest a suspect can both be transmitted verbally or thru actions. This is very sizable due to the fact the absence of cause means that no arrest can take vicinity. The intent is a subjective time making it tough to at instances determine if a regulation enforcement officer had intentions of making the arrest. Within the event that cause […]
Identifying the Role of Leadership
Three officers Darryl Forrest, Jeffrey Bell, and Dustin Sillings, working with the Selective Crime Occurrence Reduction Enforcement (SCORE) unit of the Kansas City, Kansas (KCK) Police Department were indicted in July 2011. They were charged with stealing money as well as personal property in the homesteads where they were serving search warrants (KCTV5 News, 2011). By doing so, they violated the people's constitutional freedom from unreasonable searches, seizures, and deprivation of property with no due process by acting under color […]
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Example Of Search And Seizure Paper Essay
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Law , Amendment , Privacy , Evidence , Police , Criminal Justice , Commerce , Crime
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Search and Seizure
Police and law enforcers use the search and seizure in pursuit of criminals in order to obtain evidence required in their prosecution. Search and seizure can be conducted upon a reasonable belief that information or items on premises can be used in committing a criminal offense. Although police can search premises and seize items, the law protects citizens against unreasonable police intrusions. Criminal law defines a search as an intrusion with an intention other than arrest. The United States Supreme Court defined search as any government invasion of personal privacy (Basdeo, 2009). Although the constitution grants people their right to privacy, the fourth amendment does not guarantee people privacy against all invasions. A search can be conducted based on realistic expectations in order to obtain information either by observation or investigation (Basdeo, 2009). A search that invades privacy must be conducted using a warrant with clearly defined rules. Seizure implies deprivation of liberty over private property or persons through physically taking possession of personal property. Police can use legal authority or physical power limiting the individual’s liberty to flee or leave. Individuals can be compelled to produce documents or give up an item. Police seize items to use as evidence in court or simply take them permanently from holders. Law enforcers can temporarily detain a person for short periods of time as defined by their jurisdiction or permanently hold material evidence for use as evidence during prosecution. Search and seizure can be used independently so a search can occur without seizure and vice versa. Seizure just like searches require one to come with well defined warrants but where probable and reasonable cause exist, a warrant does not apply. The fourth amendment provides for the arrest of persons by law enforcement officials. An arrest implies taking persons against their will for questioning or in order to prosecute them. An arrest occurs upon enough evidence that indicates that someone has conducted an illegal activity or has intentions of committing a crime. According to Bloom (2004), the police must obtain a warrant of arrest unless they have probable cause indicating the existence of a crime or a threat which cannot allow time to get a warrant. Arresting someone in this case will deny them the ability to continue conducting illegal activities. Upon arrest, the arresting officer should read the person the Miranda rights. Reasonableness under criminal justice system requires law enforcers to prove articulate suspicion to warrant a search, seizure or an arrest. Reasonable causes under the fourth amendment provide the basis for a search warrant which proves a connection to a crime or the criminal. Therefore, an officer seeking to conduct an arrest or a search should have sufficient facts or a reasonable suspicion of a criminal activity. Using sufficient knowledge of a crime or a threat, officers can apply under oath for a proper warrant to search, seize and arrest suspects (Bloom, 2004). Individuals also enjoy the privacy of communication, home life and unlawful entry based on reasonable expectations as stipulated in the fourth amendment. The constitution guarantees the right not to have personal property searched and right of no entry. This privacy can be limited under general limitation law. It can also be suspended under reasonable and justifiable reasons. In case of reasonable cause supported by oath, this privacy expectation can be violated, and a search and seizure can occur. Reasonable cause allows for a search, seizure or an arrest through a warrant, and this affects personal privacy as guaranteed under the fourth amendment. A warrant allows search of homes, property, seizure and excommunication through arrests. However, there exist exclusions in this warrant rule as indicated herein. Seizure allows officers to restrict individuals from walking away from a stop. If a reasonable justification exists, a police can stop and frisk and individual for weapons or narcotics based on suspicious movements or objects. Stop and frisk occur along roadside stops or luggage checkpoints. Stop and risk violate privacy expectation and require no warrant or probable cause to make an arrest. In this situation, the police seek to protect themselves and those nearby (Basdeo, 2009). However, the police can request personal approval to conduct a frisk. Another exception involves automobile stops and search based on reasonable suspicion of registration violation as police aim at making many arrest get the rewards (Johnson, 2009). . Moving vehicles enjoy diminished privacy since upon probable cause the vehicle is stopped and searched. In this case, a warrant cannot be easily obtained, so it is not a requirement. Search on automobiles upon exceptional justification may extend to closed trunks. Travelers can have their luggage detained at airports when officers look for narcotics. Upon beliefs that luggage contains illegal material or suspicion of terrorism, an officer can seize the luggage and detain individuals (Bloom, 2013). The procedure of search can lead to unlimited disclosure of personal belongings violating the traveler’s privacy. Detention of travelers can occur at the border under reasonable terms. In conclusion, criminal procedures have provided rules for the police to search seize and apprehend criminals with a goal of safeguarding the privacy anticipation of its citizens. Warrantless search and seizure occur under reasonable cases, but the constitution identifies with the need for legitimate law enforcement procedures.
Basdeo, V. (2009). A constitutional perspective of police powers of search and seizure in the criminal justice system. Master of Law Dissertation. University of South Africa, SA. Bloom, R.M. (2013). Cases on Criminal Procedure 2013-2014. Wolters Kluwer. Bloom, R. M. (2004). Searches, Seizures and Warrants. Westport, CT: Greenwood. Johnson, R. R. (2009). Explaining patrol officer’s drug arrest activities through an expectancy theory. Policing: An international journal of police strategies and management. 32 (1)
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concise Analysis of Search and Seizure Research Paper
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Search And Seizure Research Paper
Show More Consent to search and seizure should be granted in a household in which two persons share a computer but use different login names and passwords when both parties are present and both most give consent otherwise officers can only search the consenting persons portion of the computer. If the one person is present and the other person isn’t the only way the person who is home has authority to consent to a search of the whole computer is by providing passwords for both users. It is recommended that you get consent in writing and make sure the individual understands the scope of consent as a layman would. Also, be very specific and detailed in the request for consent (Knetzger, 2008). Defendants may claim that the person who granted consent to search and seizure did not have the authority to do so. Law enforcement can establish that a person has the authority to grant consent by making sure the person has common …show more content… I say this because probable cause has a gray area. An example is an officer can say they had probable cause to search the vehicle because the suspect was acting suspiciously. The word suspiciously has such a negative impact due to the wide range that it allowed to be used. Lots of people fear the police and/or they are uncomfortable when they are stopped by law enforcement. I am one of the people who shake and trembles the whole time I am pulled over with the officer. I was pulled over when I was twenty by what I thought was a police car. The man came to my window in a law enforcement uniform I was pulled from my vehicle and sexually assaulted. The guy was never caught. I have been asked for consent to search because I looked nervous and I was fidgety. These actions lead police to think that I was on drugs or hiding something. Then there are some mentally handicapped people who can function higher on some levels and lower on
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Sierra Fischer Exam 3 Answer According to the Fourth Amendment, an officer must have probable cause or a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed in order to search and seize an individual. Speeding, as well as having tinted windows and a taillight being out is enough reasonable suspicicion to pull Lil Flet over and inspect the car. As breaking the law gives an officer a reasonable belief that there may be evidence of a crime located within the vehicle. Additionally, identifying the smell of a drug is enough grounds for a search as it gives the officer probable cause.…
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Both owners “must” give their consent to officers when officers ask for the consent to search their computer. When “one” owner “objects” to the consent, then the search is “illegal” and the search cannot be done. However, when obtaining consent for permission to search computer data which users have different passwords in order to access their own data; law enforcement must obtain the consent from the user which has their own passwords, and are limited to searching the computer files which are covered by the user which have given consent to search this particular user’s computer files, which they have access to, using their user password to gain access into the shared computer. (Knetzger, Michael and Muraski, Jeremy, 2008) (p. 246)…
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Fourth Amendment Rights Violations
Officers Daily are faced with the balancing act of up holding the Fourth Amendment rights of individual people and protecting and upholding the law. Officers must know when they can can stop and question someone, conduct a search, who can authorize a search. Police also have to know when they are allowed to arrest someone. Simultaneously, police must know when to uphold the law and keep suspect rights intact. The most important, is for an officer to uphold a persons Fourth Amendment Rights, which gives people the right to be safe and secure in their home and are protected from unreasonable search and seizures.…
Stop And Frisk Research Paper
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This is strengthened in the case of Johnson v. Texas 146 S.W. 3d 719 (2004) as the court held that an anonymous tip alone does not constitute probable cause, reviewing the search of narcotics in an automobile following an anonymous tip being made. The court held that a corroborating anonymous tip justified the initial stop of the vehicle, but the actual search was unwarranted based on a lack of probable cause. An anonymous tip justifies the investigatory detention of a suspect, but without exigent circumstances, lacks the credibility to rightfully search and individual’s person or…
Essay On Search Warrant
I mean for example, your riding around late at night about 12am going to go get a bite to eat with a significant other. An officer suddenly gets behind you, and you pull over, and he/she says you seem to swerve back there on Edge Road. You move forward to say, "well I didn't notice me making a swerve move." So the officer states, "Get out both of you I would like to search your car. " Now that would seem weird, and no one should have to deal with officers that just want to pick or find something to do jsut to pull someone over for nothing.…
Reasonable Suspicion To Stop And Frisk Essay
Three, consent; a person can give an officer to have authority to search or seizure. Four, Stop and Frisk: An officer can stop a suspect as long as there is a reasonable suspicion. Five, Automobile exception: a warrant is not required to search vehicles, if there is probable cause. The automobile exception, does allow the search of a boat to be searched. (National Paralegal College,…
Search And Seizure
No, I do not believe it is too much of a burden on law enforcement. I believe the problem is a lack of training and consistent reinforcement of keeping abreast of current and new laws and procedures. The average patrol officer is not usually included in the drafting of search warrants, collecting evidence, Title VI, or being involved in complex cases which require a more in-depth understanding of search and seizure for example. So, it becomes incumbent upon them to make sure they are abreast of the law and procedures, even if their department does not. I believe many officers lack a clear understanding of what they can and cannot do in regards to search and seizure, and thus, do not go any further than what they understand or are comfortable…
Moot Court Case
DAVID FALLSBAUER’S RIGHTS UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT WERE VIOLATED BY THE POLICE OFFICERS, BECAUSE WHEN FACED WITH AMBIGUITY REGARDING THE A THIRD PARTY’S CONSENT TO SEARCH THEY FAILED TO MAKE A FURTHER INQUIRY. BY DOING SO, THE OFFICERS VIOLATED DAVID’S RIGHT TO PRIVACY. The primary question before this Court is whether police officers must make a further inquiry when faced with an ambiguity regarding a third party’s consent to search. The Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals have taken different views when deciding the actions a police officer must take when faced with an ambiguity pertaining to third party consent. It is crucial to our society that a person’s right to privacy is protected and able to be exercised.…
The Fourth Amendment Protects People Not Places Essay
The statement, “The Fourth Amendment protects people, not places,” is one of the most controversial statements in Criminal Procedure. The amendment’s purpose is to secure individuals’ rights to privacy within their houses, papers, and defends them against unreasonable searches and seizures. However, to what extent does the law preserve a person’s privacy? The Law of Search and Seizure and the Search Warrant, give the government strict to stipulations as to how they are able to rightfully obtain information that is presumed to be private. Although Searches, Seizures and Warrants seem to have simple guidelines, they are each intricate categories.…
Warrantless Arrest Research Paper
Yes, the officer needs to obtain a warrant to make an arrest. Law enforcement need to get arrest warrants before apprehending suspects inside of their homes or personal businesses. If it is needed, an additional officer can be presented on the outside the suspects home on keep them from trying to flee the scene while law enforcement try to acquire a warrant. Although, warrantless arrests in the home are legitimate in specific situations if urgent conditions exist that make it impossible for the law enforcement agencies to get a warrant.…
The Pros And Cons Of Consenting Parties
This answers some questions proposed in introduction part. The consenting party, has the right to give or refuse the consent, and it must be voluntary, consequences and items asked to consent must be explained to the consenting party. Back to the second condition, what does it mean by having the authority to give the consent? My friend’s USB key is on my computer, do I have the authority? R. v. Duarte (1987) states that “an authorized occupant of a residence may give consent to a search.”…
Search Warrant Research Paper
Search warrant should indicate everything and everyone to be search and seized. These are just a few types of things that can be seized. Which are hair, blood, money, drugs, weapons, computers, personal/business records, but these are items that require testimony, which will fall under the Fifth Amendment. There can be restrictions on a search warrant. The courts need to make sure it doesn’t violate the federal constitution.…
- Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
- United States Constitution
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- Search and Seizure 4th Ammendment
Search and Seizure 4th Ammendment - Research Paper Example
- Subject: Law
- Type: Research Paper
- Level: High School
- Pages: 5 (1250 words)
- Downloads: 2
- Author: daltonschumm
Extract of sample "Search and Seizure 4th Ammendment"
The officer must swear, under oath, by it. The amendment has been shaped by various cases along the way, examples being Mapp vs. Ohio in 1961, Katz vs. the United States in 1967, and United States vs. Jones in 2012. 1. Introduction Amendment IV of the bill of rights states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, homes, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by affirmation or oath, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the things or persons being searched” (Asimow and Mader, 2004).
Amendment IV has three sections; the first affords protection for the home, belongings, and the person of the individual. The second acts to prohibit seizures and searches, which are unreasonable, while the third insists based on a warrant, which means they must describe specifically what is to be seized, grounded by probability cause. The amendment is especially of importance given recent occurrences that have to do with invasion of the privacy of Arab Americans after 9/11. This paper will deal with the 4th amendment’s history, applicability, the rules for exclusion, exceptions made to the requirement of a warrant, and finally compile a number of important cases. 2. Adoption of Amendment IV Amendment IV, just like numerous other laws in the United States, has roots in the legal doctrine of England.
Therefore, it is important to study its origin in both England and the United States. 2.1 History in the law of England In 1604, Sir Edward Coke ruled that everyone house was their fortress and castle, on top of being a defence against violence and injury, in the Semayne’s case. This case led to the acknowledgement that the monarchy did not possess unchallenged ability for the intrusion of its subject’s dwellings. The ruling, however, permitted agents of the government to carry out seizures and searches with lawful purpose, and possession of a warrant.
Intensity of court cases against officers of the state had grown in bounds by 1760, especially since some of the officers still utilized general warrants (Taslitz, 2006). The case involving John Entick, into whose home Nathan Carrington, a messenger of the king, had entered forcibly in order to arrest his friends for the publishing of seditious papers. In the case, Charles Pratt ruled that the warrant was lacking in probable cause and that it did not specify which documents were to be seized (Taslitz, 2006).
This case was a precedent in the limitation of the executive’s power to intrude on property deemed private. 2.2 History in America General Warrants and their use were barred via the enacting of legislation by the Massachusetts colony in 1756. This was brought about by complaints from the public over the 1754 Excise Act, which granted powers to the taxman that enabled the utilization of general warrants for the seizure of uncustomed and prohibited goods (Taslitz, 2006). James Otis, in a court petition, in 1761, denounced these policies, but the court ruled against him.
After the election to the colonial legislature of Massachusetts, he pushed through legislation that demanded the granting of writs of assistance by judges, with the officer demanding them to be put under oath. However, the British governor overturned this. The Virginia declaration of rights, however, abolished general warrants
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Search And Seizure Research Paper
Citizens are protected by five amendments to the united states.
The Fourth Amendment is the first line protection against the government and their officials from violating our privacy. The Fourth Amendment provides safeguards to individuals during searches and detentions, and prevents unlawfully seized items from being used as evidence in criminal cases. The degree of protection available in a particular case depends on the nature of the detention or arrest, the characteristics of the place searched, and the circumstances under which the search takes place. This Amendment protects us in the following situations such as being questioned while walking down the street, being pulled over while driving, entering individual’s homes for arrest and searching of evidence while there. In most scenarios, police officer may not search or seize an individual or his or her property unless the officer has a valid search warrant, a valid arrest warrant, or a belief rising to the
The Pros And Cons Of Search And Seizures
Search and seizure is a vital and controversial part of criminal justice, from the streets to the police station to court. It is guided by the Fourth Amendment, which states that people have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure of their bodies, homes, papers, and possessions and that warrants describing what and where will be searched and/or seized are required to be able to search the above things (“Fourth Amendment,” n.d.). Interpretations of the Fourth Amendment by the U.S. Supreme Court and the establishment of case law by many state and federal courts have expanded upon the circumstances under which search and seizure is legal. Several doctrines and exceptions have also emerged from the Supreme Court and other case law that guide law enforcement officers on the job and aid lawyers in court.
Writs Of Assistance Essay
The Fourth amendment of the bill of rights prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures any warrant to be judicially sanction and to support to probable cause.
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The 4th amendment, search and seizure causes a lot of problems. Search and Seizure is the rights that police have when they enter in a home. The standard for conducting a warrantless search, probable cause, is the same standard necessary for a warrant to issue. An illegal search or illegal seizure is a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, and any evidence seized must be excluded from trial. Normally police need a search warrant to enter into a home unless they get the consent to enter in the home without one they normally don't go go into a home without anything. A terry pat is when a police officer can detain or conduct a reasonable search for weapons where the officer has the reason to believe the person is armed. Auto stops is
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Throughout the past centuries, the United States has encountered many court cases dealing with illegally searching citizens homes and using the evidence found against them. Cases dealing with Search and Seizure have dated back to Mapp v. Ohio, in which Dollree Mapp’s apartment was illegally searched and child pornography was found. This case raised the question, may evidence obtained through a search in violation of the Fourth Amendment be admitted in a state criminal proceeding? This issue is a major problem because it could lead to many citizens rioting and even more cases dealing with this controversial topic. In spite of many attempts to eliminate illegal search and seizures, it has still been a reoccurring problem. Regarding the issue of search and seizure, the Supreme Court has developed a much
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To understand this situation I decided to look up cases that reflect on their fourth amendment being violated. The case that stood out to me the most was Mapp vs. Ohio. In 1957, police officers received an anonymous tip that Mapp was hiding a wanted man because he needed to be questioned for a bombing. Then Police officers went to Mapp’s house and wanted to search her house. She then denied them entry, because she needed to see a warrant to let them in. After some hours went by, the police officers forcibly entered her home and recalled that they received a warrant. Then they proceeded with the search and found some books, pictures, and photographs in violation of 2905.34 of Ohio's Revised Code. Then during her court trial she appealed her sentence, because they did not receive a valid search warrant and the police officers violated her rights. Even though they found her having possessions that were illegal, they could not hold it against her. The issues with search and seizure are usually towards the issue of violating our rights. One of the rights that we are getting violated is the right if privacy. It is the interest in being free from observation that matters to us, because they always try to know what people are saying and or doing without probable cause.
Why Is The 4th Amendment Important
The 4th amendment does not always guaranteed to all search and seizures but most of the time it prevents you from getting illegally search and seizure. Other supporters believe law enforcement should not be able to search you anytime because it’s your privacy. It also takes a long time and it's not worth your time.
This case mainly deals with the interpretation of our Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which protects us from unlawful search and seizures. What we can learn from this case are: the differences in court systems, the elements that comprise the Fourth Amendment, and the controversies surrounding it. The text relevant to this case can be found within the first six chapters of our textbook, with an emphasis on Chapter 6 “Criminal Law and Business”.
The Fourth Amendment Of The Constitution
1. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S Constitution says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or afﬁrmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Fourth Amendment : Search And Seizure
The Fourth Amendment provides, "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
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The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”. It consists of two clauses, the reasonableness clause which focuses on the reasonableness of a search and seizure and the warrant clause which limits the scope of a search. There are many views on how the Fourth Amendment should be interpreted, especially by today’s standards. The world has evolved significantly since the implementation of the Bill of Rights. As it evolved, time brought about numerous cases on the applicability of the Fourth Amendment. When plaintiffs are not satisfied with the decision of lower courts, they can
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All Americans are entitled to their rights. The Fourth Amendment states that we the people have to deny search and seizures from law enforcement without a warrant. The fourth amendment generally prohibits police from entering a home without a warrant unless the circumstances fit an established exception to the warrant requirement. According to the book The Constitution: Our Written Legacy by Joseph A. Melusky, the Fourth Amendment gives the right of the people to be secure in their person, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Although we are entitled to these rights, police sometimes use and abuse their authority. In many cases, the Fourth Amendment has helped prove the innocence of one’s actions.
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We conduct a field experiment in partnership with the largest job platform in Brazil to study how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices of firms affect talent allocation. We find both an average job-seeker's preference for ESG and a large degree of heterogeneity across socioeconomic groups, with the strongest preference displayed by highly educated, white, and politically liberal individuals. We combine our experimental estimates with administrative matched employer-employee microdata and estimate an equilibrium model of the labor market. Counterfactual analyses suggest ESG practices increase total economic output and worker welfare, while increasing the wage gap between skilled and unskilled workers.
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Constitutionality of the Patriot Act
True patriots realize that one must protect the nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that the essence of what it means to be patriotic is to protect our Constitution and its Bill of Rights will all of our might.- Amitai Etzioni One of the central themes of our nation when it comes to our national security has to do with two profound commitments: protecting our homeland and safeguarding our rights. However, in order to protect it, we have […]
Bill of Rights Amendments
Frisk and seizure. This amendment, according to the Fourth Amendment, is all about: people’s right to security, protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, no violation, and that warrants should only be issued upon probable causes. Many scholars taking constitution consider this as the most freedom which has been ensured by the Bill of rights in comparison to all other freedoms. Without this protection, other important liberties like freedom of press, speech and religion could not be of existence. This right […]