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.


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.