Applicable Rule of Law

The conviction of the herein defendant was based upon Title 18 Section 472 of the U. S. Code (18 U. S. C 472) which prohibits possession of counterfeit currency with intent to defraud (495 F. 2d 799). On the part of the defense, the Fourth Amendment on search and seizure and the jurisprudence, Terry vs. Ohio (392 U. S. 1) were raised. Application of Rule of Law: By virtue of the Fourth Amendment, a person may be searched only under a valid search warrant.

However, in this case, the search was done in accordance with the government’s policy to deter hijacking by ensuring that no weapon is carried by a passenger in boarding a plane. In resolving the reasonableness of a search, the need for the search and the right of the individual to privacy should be balanced. The use of magnetometer has exceeded the need and has invaded the right as guaranteed by the Constitution. This is because the magnetometer can be activated by any metal that is not used in weapons.

Additionally, in the case of Terry, it has been declared that a frisk is the gross invasion to privacy, in general. However, it was justified in Terry because there was no more means available. In the present case, the frisk conducted by the airport officials after the magnetometer was activated constituted to invasion of privacy. The consent cannot even be used to legalize the search because it can only be justified by the reasonableness of the surrounding circumstances.

The Customs should have exhausted all alternatives in determining the metal that activated the magnetometer rather than resorting to frisking that is covered by the Fourth Amendment. Conclusion: The case involves an ordinary and routinary search on airports against hijackers. However, through the use of magnetometer, the defendant was thereafter convicted for carrying counterfeit currency as he was then frisked.

In the court, the search was found unjustified because the necessity of the procedure from the use of magnetometer to frisking was unreasonable. More importantly, it had in effect violated the right to privacy of defendant. Furthermore, the procedure and the actions taken were not covered by the Fourth Amendment and not supported by the case of Terry. Hence, the search was not justified.


United States v. Albarado, 495 F. 2d 799 (2d Cir. 1974) In United States v. Albarado, 495 F. 2d 799 (2d Cir. 1974)