Ex. In the case of Arizona v. Gant (April 21, 2009) the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the police can search a car following arrest only if the person arrested “could have accessed his car at the time of the search.” In other words, if the person arrested could conceivably reach into his car for a weapon, then a search based on officer safety is permitted. Otherwise, the old practice of allowing officers to “search [a car] incident to arrest” is no longer allowed.
2. Consented Search – requires the individual whose person or property is being searched to freely and voluntarily waive his or her Fourth Amendment rights, granting the officer permission to perform the search. The person has the right to refuse to give consent, and except in limited cases may revoke consent at any point during the search. In addition, the prosecution in any trial using the search results as evidence is required to prove that the consent was voluntary and not a result of coercion.
3. Plain-view Search – The police can make a warrantless search or seizure if they are lawfully in a position to see and access the evidence, so long as that evidence is obviously incriminating. For example, if the police enter a house with a valid search warrant to search for and seize some stolen electronics and then see a bag of drugs in plain view on the coffee table, they can seize the drugs too, even though the warrant didn’t specifically authorize that seizure. Similarly, the police could seize the drugs without a warrant, or look at any other documents or things left in plain view in the house, if there were exigent circumstances that led the police into the house — for example, if a suspect they were chasing ran into the house, or if they heard gunshots from inside. Even a law-abiding citizen who does not have any contraband or evidence that the police would want to
ex. the officer was found to have acted unlawfully. While investigating a shooting, the officer moved, without probable cause, stereo equipment to record the serial numbers. The plain view doctrine has also been expanded to include the sub doctrines of plain feel, plain smell, and plain hearing.
4. Checkpoint or Border Searches – The government has the right to warrantlessly search travelers at the border, including international airports, as part of its traditional power to control the flow of items into and out of the country. The case law distinguishes between “routine” searches, which require no cause, and “non-routine” searches, which require reasonable suspicion, but no warrant. “Non-routine” searches include strip searches, cavity searches, involuntary X-rays and other particularly invasive investigative techniques. Several courts have found that searching the contents of your laptop or other electronic devices is “routine” and doesn’t require a warrant or even reasonable suspicion. 5. Airport Searches – As you certainly know if you’ve flown recently, the government is allowed to search you and all your luggage for bombs and weapons before you are allowed to board a plane, without a warrant. Always assume that the government will look in your bags when you fly, and pack accordingly.
6. Stop and frisk searches. The police can stop you on the street and perform a limited “pat-down” search or “frisk” — this means they can feel around your outer clothing for concealed weapons.