warrantless searches

Warrantless searches are important for officers when collecting evidence that may otherwise be lost or endanger the lives of people in the community. Read the following scenarios and determine, based on the lecture notes in this module, whether you, as an officer, would be permitted to conduct a warrantless search.
Scenario 1
A woman called the police after her daughter was severely beaten by the daughters boyfriend. The daughter agreed to use her key to let the officers into the apartment where the man was sleeping. The officers did not obtain a warrant. After the daughter unlocked the apartment door, the officers entered and found a white substance on a table, which later proved to be cocaine. They arrested the sleeping man and charged him with narcotics offenses as well as domestic violence. The defendant sought to have the drugs excluded from evidence because the officers’ warrantless search was based on permission from the girlfriend, who had moved out of the apartment several weeks earlier and had no authority to give officers permission to enter and search his apartment. As the prosecutor, think about the possible exceptions to the 4th Amendment search and seizure rule to make an argument about why the evidence should not be excluded.
Scenario 2
An officer is on duty ticketing cars parked illegally on a side street. As the officer places a ticket on an SUV, he notices a handgun sitting on the passenger seat and that the doors are unlocked. The officer opens the passenger-side door, retrieves the handgun, and enters it into evidence at police headquarters. When the vehicle owner returns and notices his gun is missing, he drives to police headquarters and questions the officer’s right to seize his property, citing a violation of his 4th amendment rights. As the officer, what would you tell the gun owner about why you took the weapon and why it did not violate the 4th amendment?
Scenario 3
While on patrol, an officer notices a vehicle run a red light. The traffic violation was caught on the squad car’s dash camera. She follows the vehicle and performs a traffic stop. When she walks up to the driver-side door, she notices a small baggie containing white powder that later turns out to be cocaine. After getting the driver out of the car, she asks him for permission to search the trunk and he says “no.” She proceeds to search the trunk anyway and finds several large quantities of cocaine for distribution. In court, the driver’s defense attorney seeks to have the large quantity of drugs excluded, since the officer did not have consent to search the trunk. Imagine you are the judge. Consider the exceptions to the 4th amendment regarding the area around an arrested person that can legally be searched without a warrant.

In a 2- to 3-page paper, explain the basis for justifying or not justifying each of the three warrantless searches you just read. For each, give reasons why the officers would be allowed to conduct a warrantless search or why the suspects’ rights were violated by the warrantless search.

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