Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Seizure Definition:

A dispossession of something against the will of the possessor.

Related Terms: Search, Fourth Amendment, Arrest

In US v Marti, Justice Weinstein of the United States District Court (New York) wrote:

"[A] seizure is a forcible or secretive dispossession of something against the will of the possessor or owner...."

Distinction Between Search and Seizure

In Horton v California, Justice Stevens of the Supreme Court of the United States wrote:

"The right to security in person and property protected by the Fourth Amendment may be invaded in quite different ways by searches and seizures. A search compromises the individual interest in privacy; a seizure deprives the individual of dominion over his or her person or property."

These words are similar to those of Justice Brown of the same court in the 1906 case of Hale v. Henkel:

"[A] search ... ordinarily implies a quest by an officer of the law, and a seizure contemplates a forcible dispossession of the owner...."


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