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Payton Roberts

Period 1&2
Arizona v. Hicks (1987)

Police officers were called in after being notified of a gunshot through the floor of an
apartment hitting and injuring a man in the apartment below. Police entered respondents top
floor apartment to search for the shooter, any other possible victims and for weapons. They
discovered three weapons and a stocking-cap mask during their search. Officer Nelson noticed
two sets of stereo speakers in the apartment which he felt were out of place in the squalid and
untaken care of apartment. Suspecting that the speakers were stolen he read and wrote down their
serial numbers, moving some components to do so. Nelson then reported the information by
phone to the headquarters and soon found out that the speakers were in fact stolen. Respondent
was charged for the robbery. Were the police officers within their rights to convict Hicks for
robbery of the stereo system?

In the case CA V. Ciraolo of 1986 rules were created involving protection under the 4th
Amendment. In order to be protected by the 4th amendment one needs to be pursued by an actor
of the state and have a standing, creating a physical barrier that keeps personal affairs private.
Its obviously stated in the facts of the case that Hicks apartment was confronted by the police
who entered the privacy of his apartment. In the case Chimel v. CA of 1969 the majority opinion
states, For the routine search of rooms other than that in which an arrest occurs, or for search
desk drawers or other closed or concealed areas in the room itself, absent well recognized
exceptions, a search warrant is required. Officer Nelson physically moved the speakers and
objects around it to receive the serial numbers with no warrant.

Officer Nelson was doing his job when he was called out for this crime although he
violated the 4th Amendment of search and seizure. It states in the case facts that the police
officers arrived at the scene to search for the shooter, other victims and weapons. Theres
nothing stated about the officers looking for stolen property. Officer Nelson had no warrant and
unless the police have a search warrant they may not manipulate those physical surroundings of
the search area. They may only search in plain view which they did until Nelson came across the
speakers. In order to see the serial numbers Officer Nelson had to move other personal
belongings of Hicks which makes it clear that the numbers clearly werent in plain view.
Conclusively, Officer Nelsons rearranging of Hicks possessions was a violation of his 4th
Amendment rights.

Hicks might have been accused of firing a weapon but there was no probable cause that he had
stolen the speakers. Officer Nelson physically touched and moved objects around in Hicks
apartment with no warrant allowing him to do so. Nelsons search violated the 4th Amendment
and took away Hicks right towards his private property.