Fourth Amendment in Bailey v. United States Essay


Many completely different amendments type the American structure. American Constitution is the supreme legislation that guides the actions, actions, conduct, and behaviors of residents and residents. One of the American Constitutional Amendments is the fourth modification. The fourth modification of the US Constitution gives that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches, and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and persons or things to be seized” ( The phrases on this modification endeavors to guard two basic pursuits of proper to privateness in addition to freedom from any arbitrary invasions.

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Based on many instances within the US, the Supreme Court has tried to offer a transparent understanding of the modification. One of the instances which have introduced a variety of controversy into its information and choice based mostly on the fourth modification is the case of Bailey v United States. The following dialogue and evaluation present a deeper cross-sectional dissection of the case in regards to the fourth modification (

Facts in regards to the Case

In the case of Bailey v United States, the defendant, Bailey was stopped by cops from the District of Columbia in May 1989 for lack of entrance license plates, that are imagined to be a part of automobiles ( Bailey’s automobile didn’t have a license plate therefore the stoppage by the police officer. Surprisingly, Bailey was unable to supply a driver’s license and this worsened the scenario. The police officer ordered Bailey out of the automobile and within the course of found that he (Bailey) stuffed one thing between the seat and entrance console. Bailey’s motion of stuffing one thing between the seat and console aroused the police suspicion, which then led to a severe search. (Bailey v. the United States, 516 U.S. 137)

The search by police established that Bailey had 27 plastic luggage containing roughly 30 grams of cocaine and a nine-millimeter pistol ( Two years later, the police obtained a search warrant to look Robinson’s home after police suspected that was Bailey’s confederate ( The search obtained an unloaded 0.22 caliber pistol moreover 11 grams of cocaine. In addition, the search obtained some $20 payments associated to one of many earlier purchases of cocaine.

Question Presented

The predominant query introduced to the Supreme Court of the United States of America for judgment with regard to this case was whether or not the fourth modification permitted cops, after looking for a lethal weapon inside a personal residence, to detain an occupant who’s believed to have been the final to depart the neighborhood, particularly when the detention was performed inside a give cheap time ( The Supreme Court of the United States of America needed to make such a judgment based mostly on the above-presented query.

Court’s Rulings

Bailey and Robinson have been then charged with numerous fees that included amongst others possession of illicit medication and violations of the 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (1), which gives that a person mustn’t carry firearms throughout and inside any crime associated to medication ( Bailey and Robinson have been each convicted below 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) however appealed (

During the attraction court docket’s proceedings, a three-judge bench convicted Bailey below 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) while one other three-judge bench reserved Robinson’s fees on the identical legislation. In a bid to resolve the disparity of the rulings, the courts held that a person is taken into account responsible of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) if the gun is ready that’s simply accessible ( Therefore, a person is taken into account to be utilizing a gun throughout a drug crime if the gun is ready that’s simply accessible ( In each Bailey’s and Robinson’s instances, the weapons have been simply accessible therefore have been responsible as charged below 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) ( Nevertheless, the Supreme Court agreed to overview the instances between Bailey and Robinson below 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).

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Supreme Court’s Ruling

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court rejected the D.C. Circuit’s interpretations of the case in respect to U.S.C. § 924(c) regarding the possession of firearms throughout and inside drug crimes ( The Supreme Court concluded that utilizing a firearm requires lively employment and never essentially on the idea that the firearm is inside attain ( In addition, the Supreme Court confirmed that based mostly on the statutes of the United States legal responsibility on firearms shouldn’t be positioned on mere possessions however solely when they’re actively employed. It doesn’t imply subsequently that anybody who has a firearm is responsible of its use except there’s lively employment of the identical.

Supreme Court confirmed that the D.C Circuit court docket erred in making the ruling on the idea that its definition of the usage of firearms was fallacious. Defining the use as accessibility or proximity of the firearm was inappropriate and illegal as alluded to by the Supreme Court ( If the definition of the time period used was on the identical facet then many individuals would have been responsible of the crime together with those that have firearms for shielding their homes. Therefore, the Supreme Court confirms that the ruling by the D.C Circuit was fallacious on the definition of the time period utilized in respect to firearms in addition to the united statesC. § 924(c) (Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692)

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court additionally confirmed that the statute’s language was unclear on the usage of firearms. For occasion, the Supreme Court confirmed that it might have been troublesome for the federal government to show a violation of the united statesC. § 924(c) if the use was not merely by possession ( In any case, “use” in authorized points associated to the statute may imply points corresponding to “availing”, “carrying”, “converting to a service”, and “employ” amongst others. All these definitions stem from mere possession. Therefore, the Supreme Court’s choice or ruling was the 2 weren’t responsible as charged particularly as a result of Bailey’s gun was within the automobile’s trunk and Robinson’s pistol was within the bed room closet. Therefore, the 2 have been thought of not responsible by the Supreme Court.


Revision of the case to go well with the defendants by the Supreme Court spurs a variety of considerations and arguments in respect to the fourth modification in addition to the possession of firearms. In the above case, it’s troublesome to establish whether or not the 2 have been responsible as charged. Based on U.S.C. § 924(c), it turns into very troublesome below the fourth modification to outline the time period ‘use’ regarding firearms ( It is complicated to allude that the time period ‘use’ was wrongly employed by the D.C. Circuit courts, which delivered a judgment confirming that Bailey and Robinson have been responsible as charged. Revising the fees by the Supreme Court is difficult particularly following the truth that associated statutes don’t present a transparent definition of “use of firearms”. Therefore, there was a severe want to know the definition of the time period ‘use’ in respect to firearms.


In my private opinion, the ruling of the Supreme Court was not right. Based on the provisions of the fourth modification, it is necessary that despite the fact that people have a proper in opposition to searches and seizures, there isn’t any hurt in looking out or seizing an individual’s belonging particularly when it has been established that there are some robust suspicions on the identical ( Given that there have been no violations of the person’s proper in respect to privateness in addition to freedom on their private property as there have been true suspicions, it, subsequently, follows that the 2 ought to have been discovered responsible. It is troublesome to determine that the 2 weren’t utilizing the weapons throughout and inside the drug crime on the mere foundation that the firearms weren’t inside proximity or reasonably have been inaccessible on the cut-off date talked about. The mere proven fact that Bailey and Robinson had weapons and have been concerned in drug crime needs to be sufficient to verify that the 2 have been responsible as charged.


From the above case evaluation of Bailey v United States, many points come up. For occasion, there’s a must abide by the provisions of the fourth modification. According to the fourth modification, a person has a proper to privateness in addition to the liberty to get pleasure from private belongings. However, this shouldn’t be a foundation for individuals to have interaction in prison actions simply because they can’t be searched or seized. Any suspicions should warrant severe search and attainable seizure of property if the suspected particular person has been concerned in prison actions. Lastly, the case evaluation additionally gives an understanding of possession and use of firearms particularly throughout and inside drug crimes.

References In the Supreme Court of the United States: Chunon L. Nailey v United States of America. Web.

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Bailey v. United States, 516 U.S. 137 (1995) Fourth Amendment- Search and Seizure. Web. 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (1). Web.

Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981) The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Web. What the ‘Bailey’ Case May Reveal About Supreme Court Ideology. Web.

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