There was a famous scene in the Sopranos where Tony Soprano got his house broken into by law "enforcement" with a sneak-and-peak warrant.

I for many years thought this was fiction but it is not. How has this been defended constitutionally? It seems just like a grievous way in which so called "law enforcement" removes all the safe-guards ordinary citizens have in regards to warrants.

I don't see how the government has the right to plant listening devices in your home. This sounds very draconian.

1 Answer 1


A person has no protection against a valid warrant

The fourth amendment is crystal clear on what it protects and what it doesn’t:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Courts usually find probable cause when there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed (for an arrest) or when evidence of the crime is present in the place to be searched (for a search). Tony’s a gangster and the police went to a judge and laid out their “reasonable basis for believing” that a sneak-and-peek would get evidence of a crime. The judge believed them and issued the warrant.

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    If, in retrospect, the affidavit supporting the sneak-and-peek warrant is found to have not been supported by probable cause, the evidence can be suppressed. If the officer executing the affidavit lies about matters necessary to establish probable cause, this is the basis for a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit against the officer who lied, but the evidence probably does not get suppressed. Neither of these things makes serving the warrant itself a civil rights violation or a crime. Also, in a federal case, SCOTUS narrowing of Bivens relief may deny the person searched a remedy for affidavit lies.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 3, 2022 at 22:59

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