For decades, the reasonable expectation of privacy has been the primary standard by which courts have determined whether a "search" has occurred within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court's recent decision in U.S. v. Jones, however, has reinvigorated the physical trespass doctrine's importance when determining whether there has been a "search" triggering constitutional protection. Recognizing the unpredictability of the reasonable expectation of privacy doctrine and that doctrine's bias against the urban poor, many scholars hope that the Jones opinion may ameliorate the class divide that has developed in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.

This Article argues that while Jones has reiterated that a physical trespass may trigger Fourth Amendment protection, this holding alone will not result in any appreciable strengthening of the privacy rights of the urban poor. The manner in which urban, inner-city communities are over-policed and the aggressive law enforcement strategies employed in these areas, along with the current constitutional regime that has allowed these practices to flourish, are primarily responsible for the privacy inequities.

This Article will explain how current Fourth Amendment standards afford less protection to economically disadvantaged citizens (particularly, the urban-dwelling poor) when compared with more affluent citizens. I will also argue that this jurisprudence is largely unchanged by the Court's recent decision in U.S. v. Jones.

This abstract has been adapted from the author's introduction.

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2014

Publication Information

14 University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class 240-272 (2014)