EACH YEAR, the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Education sponsors the Lenfest Citizenship Challenge Essay Contest, whereby fourth- and fifth-grade classes from the region focus on one of the amendments of the Constitution. This year, students wrote essays exploring the Fourth Amendment and answered the question: "What's an unreasonable search and seizure?" The first-place winner, the fifth-grade language arts class at Chestnutwold Elementary School in Ardmore, was chosen in a ceremony at the Constitution Center this month. The winning essay:
Reasonable or unreasonable? The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution ensures people the right to be secure in their persons, homes, and belongings, and also limits searches and seizures. So what is a reasonable search? How do we maintain people's civil liberties and privacy, yet keep the American public safe? In order to attempt to balance these rights, we need to first answer the following question, "What is a reasonable search based upon?" We believe that a "reasonable" search should be based upon: securing reliable evidence, the absence of personal prejudices, protecting the masses, and considering immediate danger.
Determining whether evidence is reliable can be complicated, but we feel this is an essential piece to the puzzle. Reliable evidence must be present in order to secure individual's rights. If evidence comes from an anonymous tip, it is often less reliable than from a specific witness. Also, the time and place of a reported violation or crime is important as well. If a witness shares a tip that a violation or crime happened a year ago, this evidence is less reliable than if the incident happened recently. Although it may be difficult and strenuous to determine if evidence is reliable, it is crucial to determine this before proceeding with a search.
Continuing with this point, a reasonable search needs to be free from personal prejudices, stereotypes, or beliefs. This, again, secures an individual's rights under the fourth amendment. For example, picture a teenage boy wearing a hoodie sweatshirt, walking alone at night on a neighborhood street. Maybe a police officer that is on patrol thinks that teenage boys are just plain trouble, or that anybody wearing a hoodie sweatshirt is suspicious. The teenage boy should not be searched just because of this police officer's personal opinions. Nobody should be searched based on these empty beliefs. However, if the boy has been identified by a witness or is seen running from a crime, the police have reliable evidence in order to conduct a search. Trained officials and law enforcement should be trained, practice, and follow guidelines for conducting reasonable searches. Most importantly, they should be evaluated on their conduct and held to the highest standard in order to secure individual's civil liberties.
A reasonable search is justified when protecting the masses. For example, we have all been screened and/or searched at the airport and while entering an arena for a sporting event or concert. The society as a whole has rights secured under the Fourth Amendment and these searches are necessary in order to protect the masses. Certainly the rights of individuals are important and should not be violated due to prejudices or poor evidence. However, these types of reasonable searches do not violate an individual's rights, but rather ensures that everyone is safe and secure.
Another aspect of a reasonable search is the consideration of immediate danger. If any person or group of people is in immediate danger, a thorough search should be conducted quickly and without a warrant. For example, if there is a kidnapping, police should be able to freely stop and search people and their cars. Lack of privacy or possible embarrassment should not hinder this search in any way. There is immediate danger in this situation, and therefore, it is reasonable to search. This leads back to keeping the American people safe and secure, which is the basis for the fourth amendment.
In closing, we know that the Fourth Amendment was put in place in order to keep all Americans safe and secure in their persons, homes, and belongings. We firmly believe that the Fourth Amendment is able to protect both individuals as well as the society as a whole at the same time. Our country can accomplish this through conducting reasonable searches by officials who are trained, practice, and follow specific guidelines for searches by reasonable cause. Reasonable searches are justified when there is reliable evidence, the masses are protected, there is the possibility of immediate danger, and no personal prejudices are involved. It is a balance of the law that our nation needs to pursue in order to maintain individual civil liberties and keep our society safe and secure.
Published: Philadelphia Daily News
The 5th Amendment Essay
The 5th Amendment
Basically, the 5th Amendment states that no one shall be
charged with capital crimes without a Grand Jury's permission,
except in cases regarding the military while under service in wartime
or public danger. No one can be put on trial again for the same crime.
You can't be forced to testify yourself. That no one should be
executed, jailed, or have property seized without a legal precedent.
Also you can't be put through cruel or unusually punishment. If
private property is seized for public use, that the owner must be
compensated for their losses fairly. It also forbids deprivation of life,
liberty, or property without Due Process of the law.
The 5th Amendment is also often cited as the Double Jeopardy
Amendment. The Constitution does not say that individuals can't be
put on trail again for the same offense. The Constitution says that
should he defendant be tried again on the same charge or charges,
that they can't be executed or imprisoned for life without the
possibility of parole.
The 5th Amendment is also sometimes called the "Take the
Fifth" Amendment. It states that no defendant can be forced to
testify against themselves in a criminal case. When under oath, you
are expected to tell the truth, even if that truth was to put you in
trouble. Taking the fifth allows you to tell the truth about th case
without putting yourself in trouble. The Miranda are issued in 1966.
This is also the amendment that protects citizens from manifest
destiny. That is the federal government simply taking land or other
property of citizens without giving anything back. In fact, the
Constitution states that the owner shall be compensated a fair value of
the item or items taken will be paid to the former owner. This is
called Emient Domain.
5th Amendment Supreme Court Cases
MIRANDA v. ARIZONA 1966
The defendant, while in police custody, was questioned by
police officers, detectives, or a prosecuting attorney. The defendant
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