U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Seizures Under the Fourth Amendment: Let's Cut to the Chase

NCJ Number
American Journal of Criminal Law Volume: 18 Issue: 3 Dated: (Summer 1991) Pages: 289-318
S M Kuzma
Date Published
30 pages
This article reviews issues in U.S. Supreme Court cases that bear upon the definition of a "seizure" which requires reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.
The U.S. Supreme Court will have the opportunity in "Hodari" to settle a difficult problem in fourth amendment jurisprudence, i.e., whether "mere pursuit" of a suspect constitutes a "seizure" within the meaning of the fourth amendment, or whether there must be an acquisition of physical control of the suspect before fourth amendment scrutiny is triggered. The Court's approach in "Mendenhall" and "Royer," which determines whether a seizure has occurred by asking whether a reasonable person under the circumstances would have felt free to go, is the most lenient standard the Court should impose. It should not conclude that a person who flees or avoids police contact has, by definition, not been seized. Such a perspective fails to give due weight to the intimidating nature of police encounters and citizens' reasonable expectation that they will not be pursued by police absent some factual justification. The reasonable suspicion standard, currently in place, is already generous enough to permit effective law enforcement. The Court should also conclude that evidence discarded during an unjustified pursuit is presumptively the "fruit of the poisonous tree." 82 footnotes