The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protects your personal privacy. It provides the right for all citizens to be free from the unreasonable intrusion of the government into their property, businesses, homes and persons.
This is true regardless of where the police stop or find a citizen. There are legal safeguards in place that ensure law enforcement officers cannot interfere with these Fourth Amendment rights. If your rights are violated and you have been arrested for a crime, it may be possible to have the charges dismissed or reduced.
Search and seizure protections provided by the Fourth Amendment
The search and seizure protections of the Fourth Amendment include:
- An officer’s physical seizure of a person by stopping or arresting them.
- Searches by officers of items or places where a person expects privacy, such as their place of business, person, hotel room, clothing, apartment, purse, house, vehicle or luggage.
Citizens also have protections when they are being searched and detained. It also prevents an unlawfully seized item from being used against the owner in a criminal case.
When is the Fourth Amendment applicable?
The situations when the constitutional protections of the Fourth Amendment apply include:
- Someone is stopped while walking down the street.
- Someone is pulled over for a minor traffic infraction.
- Someone is arrested and questioned by the authorities.
- Police go into someone’s home to arrest them.
- Police go into someone’s apartment to look for evidence of a crime.
- Police go into a person’s business to search for evidence of a crime.
- There’s confiscation of a person’s property or vehicle by the police.
To search or seize a person or their property, the police need a valid arrest or search warrant or a belief of probable cause that the person has committed a crime.
What if your rights are violated?
If the police violate your Fourth Amendment rights, any evidence they gathered at the time could be barred from your case. Knowing your legal rights and options is important to ensure they are protected. An experienced defense is wise.