skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 99036 Find in a Library
Title: Ethics, Police Practices, and American Constitutional Law (From Moral Issues in Police Work, P 163-172, 1985, Fredrick A Elliston and Michael Feldberg, ed. - See NCJ-99027)
Author(s): I Silver
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: Rowman and Allanheld Publishers
Totowa, NJ 07512
Sale Source: Rowman and Allanheld Publishers
Division of Littlefield, Adams and Co
81 Adams Drive
Totowa, NJ 07512
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In fourth amendment interpretation and application to police investigative practices, court pronouncements have had a moral as well as legal content, but from case to case the courts have failed to follow moral principles expounded in previous cases.
Abstract: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the fourth amendment (right to privacy) applies where there is a 'reasonable expectation of privacy.' This phrase was coined in a case (Katz v. United States) where the Court protected the privacy of a conversation over a telephone in a public phone booth. In subsequent cases, however, the Court has ruled that a criminal (an inmate, probationer, or parolee) has a lesser expectation of privacy than an innocent citizen, thus creating a double standard for privacy based upon a person's character or legal status. This creation of a double standard for privacy fails to explore the ethical core of the fourth amendment as the basis for its consistent interpretation. In an entrapment case (Rochin v. California), the Court adopted the 'shock the conscience' test for determining the constitutionality of police investigative tactics. This has proven to lack precise ethical content, since what 'shocks the conscience' obviously varies among judges. It is imperative that the courts develop moral as well as legal consistency in their decisions so as to base law and its interpretation in a compelling moral framework of rights. Legal arguments should proceed from a coherent set of ethical principles that are at least arguably relevant to the constitutional issues involved in particular cases. One note is listed.
Index Term(s): Legal privacy protection; Professional conduct and ethics; Right of privacy; Undercover activity; US Supreme Court decisions
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.