The U.S. Constitution, via the Fourth Amendment, ensures that the people shall be secure in the persons, paper and property. This rule prevents law enforcement from breaking into your home and ransacking it, looking for evidence of any criminal activity.
If they do suspect you of any crime, from drug possession to tax evasion, they have to go before a judge and provide probable cause in order for the court to issue a search warrant.
However, if the Tampa Police or the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Department had wanted to search your home without a warrant before 1961, the U.S. Constitution would have offered no protection. Because at that time, the Fourth Amendment only applied to federal law enforcement. That year, however, the law changed with the case Mapp v. Ohio.
This Supreme Court case extended the exclusionary rule to state law enforcement. And the woman at the center of that case, Dollree Mapp died this year at age 91. Her case has become central to the virtually any criminal case where questions arise concerning the police conduct in searching for and seizing evidence.
The case began when police demanded to enter her home 1957 in Cleveland, searching for evidence of a bombing that occurred. She refused, asking for their search warrant. They did not have one, but returned three hours later.
The officer waved a piece of paper he claimed was a warrant. She grabbed it and stuck it inside her dress. The officer stuck his hand in her dress, taking the paper back. They then proceeded to “ransack” her home.
They did not find any evidence of a bombing, but found gambling materials and “lewd” drawings and books in the home, which she claimed belonged to a former border. She was tried and acquitted on the gambling charges, but convicted on the pornography charge. Her case began as a First Amendment issue, but the Supreme Court became interested in the exclusionary rule issue.
The Washington Post, “Dollree Mapp, figure in landmark Supreme Court decision in 1961, dies at 91,” Matt Schudel, December 13, 2014