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Back to Table of Contents, A Declaration of Universal Rights

Article 2 — Self-Government

Section 5: General Warrants Of Search Or Seizure Prohibited

The right to be secure in one's person and property against unlawful search or seizure shall not be infringed.

No law shall permit or require either search or seizure unless it require a warrant particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or instrumentality, contraband, or stolen prop­erty to be seized. No warrant shall issue but upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and attesting to the belief that a crime has been committed relative thereto.

This section focuses on issues much like those found in Sections 2 and 3 of this article and is to be read consistent with them, with one significant difference — seizures are not forfeitures. In the case of property, a forfeiture involves property rightfully possessed but now subject to deprivation for a wrongful act committed and judged liable or guilty. Seizure, on the other hand, involves property which is originally rightfully pos­sessed but subsequently is wrongfully employed and is thus an instrumentality of a crime subject to forfeiture, or property which in the first instance is not susceptible to rightful possession. Contraband and stolen prop­erty are of this class.

This section also prescribes the procedures of warrants and requires an oath, probable cause, and the belief in the commission of a crime before a search and seizure can be obtained. These requirements are related to inalienable in only one way—they are historically tested means to protect the inalienable right and secure it from arbitrary government. Thus, the inalienable right is security from arbitrary government. The arrest and other procedural requirements are simply the means calculated to secure the right. If other pro­cedures more suitable obtain that end, they may be substituted. Thus, these sections are underlined, noting the relative relation to differing cultures.

The jurisdiction of civil government noted in Romans 13:4 requires it to punish wrongdoers as God's agent. Search and seizure is one such way civil government acts to fulfill that task. This section attempts to acknowledge the obligations of civil government and the rights of the people, combining them in such a way as to mark their respective boundary lines with precision. It does not permit arbitrary arrests or detentions. See Article 5, Section 14.

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