Mapp vs. Ohio







Lenora Zeitchick

Walton H.S.

Search Warrant, Page 1 of 2Search Warrant, Page 2 of 2A search warrant is an order signed by a judge that allows the police to look in a specific place for a specific item at a specific time. In order to get a search warrant, the police must persuade a judge that they have "probable cause" to believe they will find evidence of criminal activity in the place to be searched. Police officers do this through an affidavit, which is an oral or written statement made under oath. In the affidavit, they identify the place to be searched, the reason it is to be searched, and the items that are to be seized. If a judge believes that a police officer has demonstrated "probable cause" that he will find the items, the judge will issue the search warrant. If the judge does not believe that "probable cause" exists he will not issue the warrant




One night, seven police officers broke into and searched Dolly Mapp's home in Cleveland, Ohio. The search was prompted by an informant telling them that a suspect in a recent bombing was hiding out there. Mapp's house was searched, and no sign of the suspect was found; however, police did find some literature deemed obscene (the possession of which was a crime). Although the police claimed to have a search warrant, but none was produced. In court, their search was upheld and Dolly Mapp was convicted of the possession of obscene material. The Supreme Court overturned this conviction on the grounds that the search was illegal. The Mapp case incorporated the 4th amendment into the Due Process clause of the 14th amendment and created the "exclusionary rule," which prevents the use of evidence gained by these so-called illegal searches. Opponents of the exclusionary rule argue "the criminal is to go free because the constable has blundered," to which Justice Clark answered "The criminal goes free if he must, but it is the law that sets him free."




1. Students will form self-selected groups. . In groups students will explore the actions, determine the values and examine the legal bases of the case.


2. Students will use Comp Legal. to study Due Process.


Students will complete the worksheets on the web site. Students will use these worksheets and the Internet sites given in the “Resource” section of the Webquest to complete the “Task”.


Students view the Mapp Facts OF THE CASE.

Students view the Mapp Visual.

Students will fill in the Mapp: Facts & Issue Question chart.

Students will read the Mapp: Reasoning OF THE CASE.

Students will read the Mapp Arguments OF THE CASE.

Students will read the Mapp Decision.



*  Respond to one or more of the following questions in a thoughtful essay of a minimum of 250 words. Use MS word to write your final draft

1. What issues and values are involved in search and seizure?

2. Can you relate to the situation as depicted in the case?

3. What implications are there in the outcome?

4. How might you have responded in a similar situation?

5. What do you predict the outcome of this case will be?

6. Do you agree?

7. What additional arguments might be applicable?

8. What are the future implications?

9. Do you think employers need a warrant to search employees’ desks to investigate work-related conduct? Why or why not?

10. Should students have the same rights as adults? Support your position.

11. Why do you think these cases involving “search warrants” and “due process” have important ramifications? Cite some examples from your own experiences.





*  To be completed by the police officer based on testimony from the witness(es)

In each of the situations below, a police officer does not need a search warrant to conduct a search.

1.    If an individual voluntarily consents (agrees to) a search, no warrant is needed. The key question in this kind of search is what counts as a voluntary agreement? In order for a consent search to be legal, the individual must be in control of the area to be searched and cannot have been pressured or tricked into agreeing to the search.

2.    A police officer that spots something in plain view does not need a search warrant to seize the object. In order for a plain view search to be legal, the officer must be in a place he has the right to be in and the object he seizes must be plainly visible in this location.

3.    If a suspect has been legally arrested, the police may search the defendant and the area within the defendant's immediate control. In a search incident to arrest no warrant is necessary as long as a spatial relationship exists between the defendant and the object.

4.    Following an arrest, the police may make a protective sweep search if they reasonably believe that a dangerous accomplice may be hiding in an area near where the defendant was arrested. To do so, police are allowed to walk through a residence and complete a "cursory visual inspection" without a warrant. If evidence of or related to a criminal activity is in plain view during the search, the evidence may be legally seized.

5.    If the police stop a car based on probable cause, they can search for objects related to the reason for the stop without obtaining a warrant. During a car search, the police are also allowed to frisk the subject for weapons, even without a warrant if they have reasonable suspicion that the suspects may be involved in illegal activities.

Directions: You will be given an index card with an "L" on one side and an "I" on the other. The "L" stands for LEGAL. The "I" stands for ILLEGAL. Your teacher will read aloud a scenario in which the police did not have a search warrant. You will have 10 seconds to decide, based on the information above, whether the search/seizure was legal or illegal. When the teacher says "go", raise your index card, displaying the "L" if you think the search was legal or the "I" if you think the search was illegal. Be prepared to explain and defend your answer.



Is this search Legal or Illegal?

If it's legal, cite the reason using the underlined words from items 1-5 above. If it's illegal, explain.


At the local shopping mall, an undercover detective notices a group of teenagers shopping together. Following them, he observes no illegal behavior. However, once they exit the mall he stops them and orders them to turn over their purses, wallets, and jackets. Is this search legal or illegal?




Using a valid arrest warrant, police arrest a woman for running a drug ring out of her house. Believing that her boss, one of the biggest drug dealers in the country, may be hiding inside the house, they walk through the house looking for him. Is this search legal or illegal?




Officer Jones is trying to find a convict who escaped from a nearby jail. Going door-to-door in the neighborhood surrounding the jail, he asks permission to enter each house and search it. The Nguyen's allow him to enter their house. Once in the house, the officer sees and seizes an unregistered firearm that is on a bookshelf. Is this search legal or illegal?




In a neighborhood well known for producing methamphetamines, the police have a warrant to search the basement of one home to find a production lab. Finding nothing in the basement, they perform a protective sweep search on the rest of the house. Is this search legal or illegal?




While chaperoning a high-school football game, police in Mississippi see a gun on the front seat of a parked car. Opening the car door, they discover not only the gun but also bullets and a knife. Is this search legal or illegal?




Jody and Chandra attend a keg party where all of those drinking were under age. The police break up the party without arresting anyone. They seize Jody's purse. Inside, they find marijuana and arrest Jody for possession. Is this search legal or illegal?




Late for work, Diego was driving five miles over the speed limit when pulled over by the police. Ordering Diego out of the car, the police proceed to frisk him and find a small weapon in his jacket pocket. Is this search legal or illegal?





*  In the activity that follows, you will walk through the process of obtaining a search warrant.

1.    The class will be divided into groups of two and will give each group a scenario to read. (Some groups will have the same scenario.) Each student will be assigned one  to one of the following roles:

§         Police Officer

§         Witness

2.    The police officer and witnesses read the scenario and will answer the questions that follow the scenario.

3.    The police officer will interview the witness, who will describe any "suspicious behavior" she has seen to the police officer. (In some scenarios, the witness will play more than one role). The information in the scenario provided will serve as a basis for the witnesses, but she may embellish the details as appropriate. If the situation merits a request for a search warrant, the police officer will complete an "Application and Affidavit for a Search Warrant". If the situation does not merit a request for a search warrant, members of the scenario should discuss why.

4.    Each group of two will now form a group of four with another set of partners. The "witnesses" will trade places and will now serve as judges. If the lawyer has an affidavit to submit, she will give it to the judge. If not, she will explain to the judge why she did not submit one.

5.    The judge will review the "Application and Affidavit for a Search Warrant" and determine whether or not there is probable cause for a warrant. (At this point, it would be helpful to have the assistance of the community resource person.) The judge will complete the first page of the search warrant form explaining why or what additional information he would need in order to grant the request.

6.    Each group will present the outcome of its scenario to the class and will explain what transpired and why. The community resource person can assist in the discussion.

Follow-up Questions:

1.    In which scenarios did the police officers request a search warrant?

2.    In which scenarios did the judge issue a search warrant?

3.    Why were warrants issued in some cases but not in others?

4.    In situations where warrants were not issued, how did the police obtain evidence?


Text Box: Scenario Number Three
Bored one Saturday evening, you are sitting in your family room watching MTV and wishing your parents would stop arguing over whose turn it is to do the dinner dishes. As Carson Daly introduces the latest Madonna smash hit, you hear a screeching noise in your driveway, followed by the sound of wood splintering. Rushing outside, you come across two friends in a gorgeous bright red BMW with a personalized license plate that reads "Doc". Surprised, you ask, "What's up?" "The sky", the driver replies and tells you to get in the car "NOW". Ignoring the yelling of your parents, you hop in the car, figuring you are about to embark on a fantastic adventure. Once in the car, you ask your friend in the passenger seat where you are going. He looks scared, but answers bravely, "Anywhere our chauffer wants to take us." Careening around corners and running red lights, you get to the center of town before you notice the flashing lights of a police car behind you. Your friend ignores the police until you and the other passenger convince him to pull over. Witnesses to this activity are the two passengers; Doctor Rodriquez, whose red BMW is missing from the restaurant parking lot where he had parked it; the driver of another car that was almost run over by both the BMW; and the police car pursuing the BMW.
Questions to Consider: 
1.	List two illegal activities that may have taken place. 
2.	List three pieces of possible evidence to support each of the above predictions. 

Text Box: Scenario Number Two
When visiting downtown Kansas City, Missouri you and your friend come across a woman on the street corner selling stereo equipment out of the back of her SUV. The equipment that she is selling is very high quality but she is selling it for less than half the price it would cost in a specialty store. When you ask how she is able to sell the equipment at such a low price, she tells you that the merchandise was previously owned, but assures you that it has been checked and is in excellent condition. Not wanting to commit to a purchase, you ask if she will be back next weekend. She says she will, but might not be in the exact location. During the week, you talk to your uncle who lives in Kansas City, Kansas. He asks if your community is having the same crime wave that his is suffering. You tell him no, and you ask for details. He says that homes in one of the more affluent neighborhoods are being burglarized. When you ask what is being stolen, he tells you jewelry and electronic goods. Although you think nothing of it at the time, when the weekend comes you again see the woman selling stereos and think twice. Witnesses to this activity include your friend and your uncle.
Questions to Consider: 
1.	What illegal activity may have taken place? 
2.	List three pieces of possible evidence to support the above prediction. 
















*  Can you apply what you have learned? 

Questions for Thought

Complete your project, defending your position, from Mapp’s point of view.

Show what you have learned by creating an original piece of work in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, an art project or photo journal, a poem, a cartoon, a diorama, an oral presentation, a letter to an official, a role play, or an editorial. Your project may be done individually or as a group.



Search Warrants: What Are They and How Do They Work?, Mapp v. Ohio, Landmark Supreme Court Cases


Teaching Recommendations Based on Your Time, Mapp v. Ohio, Landmark Supreme Court Cases


Supreme Court Cases (Summary)





ELA 1, 3, 4





Grade A

Grade B

Grade C

Grade D

Written report

Shows understanding of the topic.  Uses correct grammar and spelling. Writes in completes sentences.

Shows a good understanding of the topic. Uses correct grammar and spelling most of the time. Writes well organized sentences.

Presents satisfactory understanding of the topic. Misspells words, poor grammar. Some sentences and paragraphs are not well structured.

Shows little understanding of the topic.  Report lacks proper grammar usage.  Poor organizational skills.  Sentences lack structure. 

Completion of the task.

Addresses all aspects of the task.

Addresses all aspects of the task.

Addresses most aspects of the task.

Attempts to address topic, but uses vague and /or inaccurate information

Facts about the cases.

Richly supports topic with relevant facts, examples and details

Includes relevant facts, examples and details, but not support all aspects of the case

Uses some relevant facts, examples and details.

Uses little facts, examples, or details.

Role-Play Presentation

Presents a strong and well-organized case or point of view. Speak loud and clear. Use proper English .

Presents point of view and is organized. Uses proper English. Explains most of the case well.

Presents weak point of view but is not well organized.  Speaks using a   low tone of voice. Does not explain the case very well.

Point of view is very weak and lacks organization



 This case is centered on search and seizure. By completing this WebQuest you have used CompuLegal to research the concept of due process through the Supreme Court case Mapp v Ohio. You have selected one of several questions and written an essay response. You have researched and presented information to the class and had your project reviewed. You have submitted your research individually or collectively. Additionally you have participated in a discussion with your peers, expressing your feelings and experiences while completing this research project. You can now utilize the technological research and critical thinking skills that you have acquired during this process to further explore this issue or any additional issues that are of interest to you