Search and Seizure

Search and Seizure


Welcome to Lawshelf’s video-course on searches and seizures. This fundamental criminal procedure course looks at the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and its warrant requirement. This is an introductory level course and no prior experience or knowledge is necessary to participate.

The course stars with discussion of the fundamentals of the Fourth Amendment, such as when its protections apply and what is considered a search or seizure. We’ll look at landmark cases such as Katz v. United States, Mapp v. Ohio and Justice Brandeis’ famous dissent in Olmstead v. United States and the effects of these cases in weaving a tapestry of rules that protect our rights to privacy.

We’ll then focus on the mechanics of the warrant requirement, including discussion of probable cause and the procedure for obtaining warrants. We’ll look at the exclusionary and fruit of the poisonous tree rules that enforce the Fourth Amendment and their exceptions.

In modules 3 and 4, we’ll discuss several exceptions to the warrant requirement, which are cases in which searches can be legal even with no warrants. These include search incident to a lawful arrest, the automobile exception, consent and others. We’ll also discuss the controversial “stop and frisk” tactic used by some police forces, endorsed by the Supreme Court, but denounced by some civil rights groups.

In the last module, we’ll look at how Fourth Amendment jurisprudence is evolving to meet the changing landscape of data and data privacy. We’ll look at how the Fourth Amendment applies to data on the cloud, your GPS devices and data collected by your Internet Service Provider. Finally, we’ll look at how national security concerns have been balanced against the right to privacy in federal statutes and cases.

After completing this course, we hope that you will be able to apply many Fourth Amendment rules and doctrines and determine when and whether Fourth Amendment exceptions may apply.

Best of luck and we welcome your feedback.

What is a video-course?

A LawShelf video-course is an in-depth series of presentations on a discreet legal topic. LawShelf video-courses focus on practical legal information and applications and are each designed to familiarize the viewer with a legal topic quickly and efficiently.

Who should take a video-course?

Our video courses are designed for professionals such as attorneys, paralegals, corporate officers and financial professionals, as well as laypeople looking to deepen their knowledge of particular areas of law. The courses allow you to acquire the specific knowledge and skills that you need without the expense and time commitment of going “back to school” for a degree. 

How do I learn?

Video courses are divided into 5 or 6 modules.  Each module contains a video lesson (usually about 15 minutes long) and a series of self-test questions that you can use to practice and make sure that you understand the material.

How do I complete a video-course?

To complete a video-course, you must pass a 10-question multiple-choice examination by scoring 70% or higher.  The questions on the exam are randomly selected from the self-test question sets for the various modules. You can retake an exam as many times as you need to, though you will not get the same questions each time since the questions are drawn from an exam bank.

How long will it take me to complete a video-course?

Between watching the modules, doing the self-test practice questions, reviewing the material and taking the final exam, we estimate that completing a video-course requires a time investment of 4-5 hours.  The courses are designed to get straight to the point. We’re cognizant that your time is valuable, and we condense the information you need to know to comprehensively cover a subject into as little time as practical.

Is there limit to how many video-courses I can take or complete?

No. A LawShelf subscription enables you to access any and all LawShelf content, including all video-courses. You can take courses as quickly or slowly as your time allows.

Do I receive any recognition for completing a video-course?

Once you complete the course by passing the final exam, you will be awarded a digital badge to display as evidence of your training and accomplishment.

How will a digital badge help me? 

Modern educational trends are moving away from traditional classroom-based course completion models and towards skills-based education. Employers today care more about skills than ever before. LawShelf digital badges conform to the Open Badge standard and are verifiable records of your skills that can easily be shared online.

How long do I retain access to the course materials?

You retain access the modules and take the final exam as long as you are a subscriber to LawShelf.

The Fundamentals to the Fourth Amendment - Module 1 of 5

The Warrant Requirement and the Exclusionary Rule - Module 2 of 5

Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement - Module 3 of 5

More Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement - Module 4 of 5

The Fourth Amendment in the Digital Age and Other Considerations - Module 5 of 5

Final Exam only needs to be taken by those seeking to earn the Digital Badge credentials for this course.