The body of law surrounding search and arrest is well developed. However, because a seizure is usually the natural by-product of a search, or is otherwise justified under the plain view doctrine, "pure" property seizure law is not well developed. Consequently, "pure" property seizures have not received much attention, and the term "seizure" has not been clearly defined. Most law school graduates can recite the definition of "search"; how many can recite the definition of "seizure"?
Section II reviews Terry and examines the framework it established for seizures of people. Section III turns to Place (and United States v. Van Leeuwen, a prelude to Place) and finds that the Place framework derives from and parallels the framework created under Terry for the seizure of persons. Section V examines Jacobsen and discovers that,- although it announced a definition for seizures, it applied the Place framework when deciding the case. The focus is then placed on a lower federal court's application of the Jacobsen definition to fully develop the Jacobsen model.
Section V explores the problems with the Jacobsen model: its definition for "seizure" does not find support in Terry or Place-the cases that authorized reasonable suspicion seizures of persons and property in the first place; the Jacobsen model places too much police conduct beyond constitutional scrutiny, a result that neither the Terry nor Place Courts would have accepted; and when put to the test, the Jacobsen framework has limited usefulness. It is then noted that the Place model is consistent with Terry and with traditional search analysis, and that the Place model ensures that the initial stages of contact between citizen and government agent remain under judicial scrutiny, thereby protecting citizens from potential abuses. Further, if courts are concerned that the Place model will exclude too much relevant evidence, these courts can alleviate their concerns by liberally construing what constitutes reasonable suspicion.
Eric R. Carpenter,
Seizures Without Searches: Defining Property Seizures and Developing a Property Seizure Model
, 41 Gonz. L. Rev. 167
Available at: http://ecollections.law.fiu.edu/faculty_publications/49