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Study Notes

Mapp v Ohio 1961

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

This Supreme Court case ruled that evidence that was obtained without a warrant must not be used in state criminal prosecutions and affirmed this to be the case in federal criminal prosecutions. It ruled that this practice was a violation of the Fourth Amendment, that protects citizens from ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’.

Background to the Case:

Ohio Police, whilst looking for an suspected bomber, got a tip off that the suspect was holed up in a residence in Cleveland. Following up the lead, Police came to the house of Dollree Mapp. Mapp refused to let the Police enter the property. Ohio police then forcibly entered the police, Mapp demanded to see a search warrant, and then concealed this upon her person. The warrant was then subsequently retrieved and taken away. Police then handcuffed Mapp for being belligerent. When searching the property, police found a stash of pornography, which was illegal in Ohio at the time. Mapp was subsequently arrested and charged with possession of pornography.

The Case:

Mapp appealed against her sentence and reached the Supreme Court in March 1961. During the case the Warrant which Mapp has taken and police had taken back, never surfaced as evidence for either side. When asked about the warrant the prosecutor for Cleveland deflected the question and was not pressed further on the matter.

The Decision:

The Court ruled 6-3 in favour of Mapp and overturned her conviction. The justices found that States must exclude evidence seized that was in violation of the 4th Amendment.

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