CRIMINOLOGY CASE STUDY
In this case study, Officer Martinez and Officer Williams took the help of a trash collector responsible for the area of the defendant. With the help of the garbage collected, officers were able to charge a defendant due to possession of narcotics. In this paper, an overview of the constitutional amendment relevant to the case will be highlighted along with the validation of the officer’s actions.
The relevant constitutional amendment
Keeping in view the current case study of Officer Martinez and Officer Williams, the involvement of trash collectors in the case falls under the fourth amendment. The constitutional fourth amendment governs the actions taken by police officers (Kim, 2017). Based on the Fourth amendment, concerned officers are not allowed unreasonable searches and seizures of individuals as well as property. Moreover, the fourth amendment protects the rights of individuals against being stopped at random by the police and searched (DeReuil, 2012). Reasonable suspicion is required to make people stop for random searches. However, based on reasonable suspicions officers are allowed to use narcotics detection dogs outside the vehicle during the legitimate traffic stop. In this case, Officer Martinez and Officer Williams were suspicious about the activities of the defendant which is why they involved the trash man to inspect the garbage of the defendant. However, legally if the police officers have a reasonable suspicion to stop the individual, police can pat down the person in search of possession of narcotics (DeReuil, 2012).
Validity and constitutionality of the officer’s actions
Based on the actions of Officer Martinez and Officer Williams, the actions are valid and constitutional. Once the trash was dumped by the defendant it was no longer his possessions. Once the trash was left in the garbage, the defendant eventually abandoned it as he no longer required it. Once something is abandoned and not claimed by any person, the police officers hold the right to claim it if it helps in solving the relevant case. On the contrary, if the defendant left the garbage in his house and police searched and inspected the garbage on the premises of his house without any consent, the evidence gathered from it would be excluded. In the case of Officer Martinez and Officer Williams, their actions are valid as the garbage was already dumped by the individual. The probable use of the inspection of trash was for the collection of facts and knowledge about the case so that the overall process of investigation can be made easy.
Officers’ actions under the doctrines of open fields and abandonment
Based on the doctrine of open fields, police officers are allowed to search without the need for a warrant in the outside area of the defendant’s house (DeReuil, 2012). Since the outside area is not termed as a part of the defendant’s possessions, hence open fields don’t go against the fourth amendment. The doctrine of abandonment is related to the individual when the individual willingly gives the right to his property (Kim, 2017). In this case, the owner intentionally and knowingly abandoned the trash once it was picked up by the trash company. Hence the actions of Officer Martinez and Officer Williams are valid under the doctrines of open fields and abandonment. For instance, in the State v. Dixson case, police learned about the growth of marijuana in the fields and followed the tip to save the lives of the people by searching the premises of the land. No consent was required for the actions of the officers as the right of privacy was not a concern in abandonment searches or open field doctrine (S. Schultz, 2000). Overall, the actions of officers were under the fourth amendment and were valid since no law was breached during the investigation process.
S. Schultz, S. (2000). Constitutional Law. Fourth Amendment. Seventh Circuit Holds That Drug Interdiction Roadblocks Violate the Fourth Amendment. Edmond v. Goldsmith, 183 F.3d 659 (7th Cir. 1999). Harvard Law Review, 113(3), 828. https://doi.org/10.2307/1342293
Kim, J. (2017). US Court Cases regarding Warrantless Drug Searches at the US Borders. The Legal Studies Institute Of Chosun University, 24(2), 423-443. https://doi.org/10.18189/isicu.2017.24.2.423
DeReuil, L. (2012). Applicability of the Fourth Amendment in Civil Cases. Duke Law Journal, 1963(3), 472. https://doi.org/10.2307/1371334