Monday, August 10, 2020


Article Index

Investigatory Detentions of Property. Under the Fourth Amendment, seizures of property in which a person has a legitimate privacy interest are valid only when police reasonably suspect that the property constitutes or contains evidence of criminal activity. Seizures of property that is abandoned, in plain view, or obtained by consent are valid because the Fourth Amendment does not protect voluntarily-surrendered privacy interests. When evaluating the reasonableness of a seizure of property, courts consider the duration and intrusiveness of the seizure, including how quickly police conducted their investigation of the seized property and whether police moved the seized property to a different location after seizing it.

Although brief seizures of property are valid if based on reasonable suspicion, a subsequent search of seized property is generally valid only if executed pursuant to a warrant issued upon probable cause.


Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law