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Expectation of Privacy – Mail, Generally

State v. Dwan J. Earl, 2009 WI App 99
For Earl: Mark D. Richards, Christy Marie Hall


¶9        Sealed packages sent through the mail are entitled to full protection under the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 114 (1984). In order to challenge a warrantless search or seizure, one must show a legitimate expectation of privacy in the thing or place searched or seized. State v. Ramirez, 228 Wis. 2d 561, 566, 598 N.W.2d 247 (Ct. App. 1999). This showing entails both a manifestation of a subjective expectation of privacy as well as an indication that the privacy interest is one that society is willing to recognize as reasonable. Id. This standing requirement reflects the fact that Fourth Amendment rights are personal, and thus may not be asserted vicariously.Id. The burden of establishing that the search or seizure violated the challenger’s rights, and not those of some third party, is on the challenger.   Id.Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 130 n.1 (1978). Whether sufficient facts have been brought forth to demonstrate a reasonable expectation of privacy must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Ramirez, 228 Wis. 2d at 567-68. Whether a party has standing to challenge the constitutionality of a search is a question of law we review de novo. Id. at 566. [6]


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