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NCJ Number: 93530 Find in a Library
Title: Royer, Profiles, and the Emerging Three-Tier Approach to the Fourth Amendment
Journal: American Journal of Criminal Law  Volume:11  Issue:2  Dated:(July 1983)  Pages:149-168
Author(s): B Latzer
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 20
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Florida v. Royer, a U.S. Supreme Court case involving the detaining of the defendant in an airport based upon the use of a drug courier profile, is significant because it relies upon and expands the three-tier theory of the fourth amendment more than any previous Supreme Court decision, thus providing tacit endorsement.
Abstract: The fourth amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures in an effort to balance the needs of law enforcement and the privacy interests of the citizen. Generally, seizures are 'reasonable' if they are supported by probable cause as determined by a magistrate or, in exigent circumstances, by the police. In the last decade and a half, the Supreme Court has approved, upon reasonable suspicision (a standard lower than probable cause) seizures less intrusive than a full arrest. This article refers to traditional seizures justified by probable causes as tier-three seizures and to seizures justified by reasonable suspicion as tier-two seizures. The first tier consists of the police-citizen contacts that are some minimally intrusive as to not involve the level of a fourth amendment seizure. Although the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Florida Court of Appeal in ruling that Royer's detention in the airport office was unlawful and that this illegality tainted the consent upon which the search of the suitcases was based (drugs were found), this decision will not curtail the use of drug courier profiles. On the contrary, it encourages their use by endorsing the authority of police to stop air travelers, ask questions, and even request their tickets and identification based upon a profile or even purely at random. Profiles are valid law enforcement tools in principle. They are a logical extension of the rationale of Terry v. Ohio. Still, courts should be cautious to determine that seizures are actually based on objective criteria which rationally support an inference of criminality and serve to differentiate the suspect from innocent citizens. A total of 81 footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Drug smuggling; Offender profiles; Search and seizure laws; US Supreme Court decisions
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