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Fourth Waiver Searches

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Quarterly Dated: (November 1995-January 1996) Pages: 5-8,39
R C Phillips
Date Published
5 pages
The fourth amendment provides that individuals are entitled to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, but fourth amendment provisions are not absolute or consistently applied in all circumstances.
The extent to which an individual's constitutional rights will be protected are determined by courts after balancing the nature and quality of the proposed intrusion by law enforcement against the importance of government interests alleged to justify the intrusion. An important variance from normal search and seizure rules occurs when a subject agrees to waive his or her fourth amendment rights. Under certain circumstances, the freedom of parolees and probationers may be conditioned on an agreement that law enforcement, parole agents, and probation officers be allowed to search and seize a subject's person and possessions without probable cause and without a warrant. These "fourth waiver" searches are often based on the theory that a parolee or a probationer has consented in advance to waiving his or her constitutional rights to be free from searches and seizures without a warrant and without probable cause. Search and seizure conditions may also be imposed on the release of juveniles. Despite the apparent blanket authority to search parolees and probationers, courts have established several important limitations and law enforcement may not necessarily act on potential parole and probation violations without restriction. 66 references and 1 illustration