Articles Posted in Fourth Amendment Protection

If it isn’t hard enough for parolees to manage a new life after serving their time in prison, at least they do not face unlimited searches and reduced expectation of privacy, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The court of appeals in Chicago rejected the “astonishing proposition” that parolees who knowingly violate the terms of their release are subject to virtually any and all searches.

The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals conceded that the parolees have a reduced expectation of privacy. However, that doesn’t mean that searches of parolees “conducted at random and based on no suspicion whatsoever” automatically pass muster under the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

“Society is prepared to accept that parolees have an expectation of privacy, even if they are up to no good,” wrote Justice John Daniel Tinder.

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On March 23, 2010, two officers of the Chicago Police Department flagged down two men who appeared panicked.  One of the men told the officers that a Hispanic man wearing a white tank top had just fired a gun at him. The man directed the police officers to an alley in which the shooting occurred. 

As the officers drove down the alley, they noticed that the door to Juan Castillo’s garage was open;  two Hispanic men and a white man were standing inside.  The men were ordered to step out of the garage and place their hands on the squad car.  They complied and the two officers searched the garage.  One of the officers testified at trial that the search was brief.  Both officers were looking for a place where a gun could easily and quickly be hidden.  One of the officers opened a closed cooler and found a .38 caliber handgun with a spent shell casing and two live rounds.  The officers detained Castillo, and he was identified by the two men who had approached the officers as the man who shot at them. 

Castillo testified that the officers came into the garage uninvited.  He stated that they showed neither an arrest nor a search warrant and that he never gave them permission to either enter or search the garage.  He testified that they entered and  began opening drawers and cabinets and had to take several items off of the cooler before they could open it to see what was inside it.

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