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2. What’s unreasonable may not be what you expect.
Though the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, evidence obtained through such means weren’t excluded from admissibility in court until a 1921 Supreme Court case, Weeks vs. United States. The Court prohibited federal authorities from using such evidence provided by state or federal agents, and it only extended this exclusionary rule to police at the state and local level in 1961. Until then, though unreasonable searches and seizures were considered unconstitutional, they could still land you in jail.
In 1967, the Supreme Court defined an “unreasonable” search as one that violates the individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Since then, the authorities have whittled away at those expectations. When two Kentucky cops ignored a “No Trespassing” sign to enter a man’s property and walk a mile down a road to find a crop of marijuana plants in the 1980s, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that the defendant didn’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in what amounted to an “open field,” despite the No Trespassing sign. And in the last quarter century, the Court has applied Fourth Amendment exceptions to sobriety checkpoints and to police checkpoints set up to solicit information for an investigation.
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