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Ninth Circuit extends Fourth Amendment rights to criminals awaiting trial

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] has extended the reasonable search and seizure rights established under the Fourth Amendment to defendants awaiting trial on criminal charges. The 2-1 decision [PDF text] held that police may not conduct a search based on less than probable cause of a defendant released and awaiting trial, even if that defendant has signed a waiver authorizing the government to do so. The case involved the common practice of defendants "signing away" their Fourth Amendment rights in order to secure bail. The court ruled that evidence obtained during such searches may be excluded at trial if the search was not based on probable cause. Judge Alex Kozinski [profile] wrote that "[g]iving the government free rein to grant conditional benefits creates the risk that the government will abuse its power by attaching strings [and thus] eroding constitutional protections." Monday's Las Vegas Sun has more.

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