A homeless man has been sleeping under a bridge in public for a number of months. You are a police officer, and you receive an anonymous tip that he has a gun and is in immediate danger of harming himself or others. You search the tent that he has been sleeping in. You do not find a weapon, but you do find a plastic baggie containing a small amount of methamphetamine in one of his shoes right outside the tent. You arrest him, and now his attorney is challenging the admissibility of the search.
Consider the first three steps of the Criminal Justice Decision Making Model:
Step One: Define the problem (and the questions that need to be answered): Read the section on Reasonable Expectation of Privacy, and determine whether, based upon the ruling in Katz v. United States, the homeless man has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a tent on public property. If there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, determine whether or not the exigent circumstances exception would apply. Next, look at the information on Plain View, Open Fields, and Abandonment, and justify whether or not the seizure of the methamphetamine is allowable.
Step Two: Gather evidence (law, policy, procedure, data) and evaluate for relevancy: What other cases support your decision that your actions were legal or illegal? Did you find any cases contrary to your opinion, and how would you distinguish the facts of this case from what you found?
Step Three: Weigh moral considerations and direct/indirect consequences: What other steps might you have taken to ensure the constitutionality of the search? What would have been the potential ramifications?
Following Steps 4 and 5 of the Criminal Justice Decision Making Model, write a three-page essay in which you analyze the constitutionality of this scenario. Be sure to create a compelling thesis statement that illustrates your argument. As you write your essay, focus on creating strong paragraphs (that begin with relevant topic sentences) that support your thesis. Cite your sources using APA format to support your points.
Step Four: Write your argument, utilizing the above material.
Step Five: Balance your position by addressing alternatives and potential pitfalls.
Your paper should be a minimum of three pages, standard format, double spaced. This is a 30 point assignment: your assessment should be thorough, your analysis should be thoughtful and detailed, your conclusions and proposals should be well formulated and evidence-based; and your report should be well-articulated and college quality, including spelling and grammar and structure.