criminal justice

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Zoë came racing into the police station, bedraggled and obviously traumatized. She told the officer at the desk that her ex-husband had held her hostage for the past two hours. He had a gun and kept it in plain sight the whole time. The incident occurred at her home when she returned after work; she found that he had broken in. Zoë stated that her ex-husband was drunk, and she ran out when he finally passed out from the effects of the alcohol.

The police were dispatched immediately to Zoë's house. Her ex-husband was still there passed out in the living room. The officers looked for the gun Zoë mentioned but did not see it in the immediate vicinity of her ex-husband. They searched his body but could not locate a gun. Next, they did a routine sweep of the home, being careful not to open any drawers or closets but simply looking around. Again, they found no gun. Frustrated because the victim seemed sincere, one officer picked up the cushion on the couch where her husband was lying unconscious and found a gun.

Was this search legal? Can Zoë's rushing to the police be considered as consent for the search? Justify your response.

What are the consequences of conducting an illegal search and seizure? Does the Fourth Amendment apply to this situation? Why or why not? Do you think police officers should be allowed to conduct a general search of the home in cases like this, without a search warrant? Are they liable to misuse their power if it is given to them?

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