A Critical Discussion of the Case Essay


TheMapp v Ohio[1961] case revolved around Dollree Mapp, an Ohio woman who had been sentenced to serve time in jail for possessing obscene materials that she was merely storing for a former tenant when the local showed up and searched her home without a warrant. The search on Mapps house was not motivated by the obscene materials; on the contrary, the law enforcement officers were conducting an impromptu search based on information from an unnamed informant alleging that an individual wanted for a recent bombing was hiding at Mapps premises (Price, 2010). Although the lower court used the confiscated obscene material to convict Mapp, the this conviction on account of illegal seizure of evidence (Long, 2006). This paper evaluates several important issues arising from theMapp v Ohiocase.

Significance and Impact of the Case

The main significance ofthe Mapp v Ohiocase is that states were now required to desist from using evidence that had been obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendments prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures (Price, 2010, p. 61). It should be recalled that such an exclusionary rule existed and was being applied in federal prosecutions; however, before the Supreme Courts influential ruling inMapp v Ohio, many state prosecutions in America still admitted illegally or unlawfully seized evidence in criminal proceedings (Long, 2006). The Supreme Courts ruling, therefore, was significant in terms of ensuring that the federal exclusionary rule requiring the exclusion of evidence obtained by an illegal search also applied to state prosecutions.

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In terms of the impact of the case, it can be argued thatMapp v Ohiosubstantially changed the criminal justice landscape by requiring states to follow the federal exclusionary rule with the view to safeguarding the Fourth Amendment protections that had been incorporated through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (Long, 2006). Consequently, in bringing state law in line with older federal exclusionary rule, the decision made the United States the only country to take the position that some police misconduct must automatically result in the suppression of physical evidence (Price, 2010, p. 54). Overall, it can be argued that theMapp v Ohioruling dramatically changed the operations and behavior of state police officers by putting a stop to the admission of evidence obtained by a search in violation of the federal constitution and the various provisions contained in the Bill of Rights.

Definition and Summary of Concepts

The basic to a free society phrase refers to the inalienable rights guaranteed under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the American Constitution that are basic or essential to ensuring that the rights of American citizens are not trampled upon by the state. On the other hand, the evidence unconstitutionally seized phrase relates to the evidence obtained by a search that violates the provisions of the Fourth Amendment to safeguard American citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. This phrase underscores the need for police officers to have valid search warrants signed by people in positions of authority in the criminal justice system if they expect the evidence collected in raids and searches to be admitted in law (Long, 2006).

Authority and Levels of Government

Lastly, based on the case analysis, it is evident that the federal government has more authority about the law of land than the state government, in large part because the federal government is charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the American Constitution and the various provisions contained in the amendments to the constitution and also in the Bill of Rights (Price, 2010).


Drawing from this discussion and analysis, it can be concluded that theMapp v Ohiocase went a long way in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of American citizens in terms of ensuring that evidence obtained through illegal and unlawful means cannot be admitted in state prosecutions.

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