Criminal Procedure

Special Need Search

Special need searches are searches with an immediate objective of a special need separate from tradition law enforcement purposes. They are thus permitted without a warrant or probable cause as long as the government interest outweighs the individual's privacy interest. (This is a two-part test.) In weighing an individual's privacy interest, both the character of the intrusion and the nature of the intrusion must be considered.

Administrative Search

Generally, routine administrative searches require either a warrant, consent, or another exception to the warrant requirement. Absent such requirements, administrative searches must give an opportunity for precompliance review before a neutral decisionmaker unless it is a closely regulated business.

In applying for a warrant, for an administrative search, probable cause exists if reasonable legislative or administrative standards for conducting such inspection are satisfied for the dwelling. Such standards are reasonable if they are based on the passage of time, the nature of the building, or the condition of the area.

Warrantless searches are allowed for closely regulated businesses however as long as three requirements are satisfied:

  1. There must be a substantial government interest that informs the regulatory scheme pursuant to which the inspection is made.
  2. The warrantless inspections must be necessary to further [the] regulatory scheme.
  3. The statute's inspection, in terms of the certainty and regularity of its application, must provide a constitutionally adequate substitute for a warrant.
    • It must:
      1. Advise the property owner that the search is being made pursuant to the inspecting officers and has a properly defined scope
      2. Limit officer discretion
Closely Regulated Business

The Supreme Court has recognized four industries as being closely regulated:

  • Liquor sales
  • Firearms dealing
  • Mining
  • Running an automobile junkyard
Border Search

The government has authority under the Fourth Amendment to conduct suspicionless searches at the border, including removing the gas tank from a car, based on its interest in protecting the border.

This also allows mail entering the country to be inspected without a warrant, as long as there is reasonable cause to suspect that there is something illegal therein.

Reasonable suspicion is sufficient to detain someone at the border while waiting for a warrant to conduct a search.


While a Fourth Amendment seizure occurs when a vehicle is stopped at a checkpoint, there is no Fourth Amendment violation for sobriety checkpoints or checkpoints based on exigency (catching a dangerous criminal) because the main objective is public safety, not general crime control.

The government's interest in the checkpoint must be balanced against its invasion on the motorist.

School Search

Searches in schools only need reasonable suspicion of evidence of violating the law or a rule of the school.

Measures used in such searches must be "reasonable related to the objectives of the search and not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction."

Government Employment Search

Neither a warrant nor probable cause is needed for a search of a government employee's workplace and work phone as long as it is motivated by a "legitimate work-related purpose" and it is not "excessively intrusive".

Drug Testing

Random drug testing is permissible for student athletes and participants in extracurricular activities because there is a lower expectation of privacy inherent in participating in such activities.

Jail Search

Strip searches of people entering jail are permissible as long as they are reasonably related to legitimate "penalogical interests".


DNA may be collected from people validly arrested as part of a routine booking procedure and used to investigate.

Probation Search

A person on probation has a lesser expectation of privacy and thus may be searched without a warrant and based only on reasonable suspicion.

Parole Search

A person on parole has a lesser expectation of privacy and thus may be searched without a warrant or any level of suspicion.