The U.S. Constitution offers several protections for citizens and residents alike. Specifically, The 4th Amendment protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. This means that the police cannot search your property without a valid warrant or reasonable cause for suspicion.
Besides unreasonable search, The 4th Amendment also protects you from having your property unlawfully seized by law enforcement. But what does The 4th Amendment actually mean?
Understanding what The 4th Amendment protects you from
If law enforcement shows up on your property, it is important that you understand your rights and obligations. If they do not have a valid warrant, probable cause to suspect that you are committing a crime or your consent, then they may not search and seize your property. If they do, you may challenge any evidence obtained therein during your trial.
However, The 4th Amendment does not offer blanket protection. While The 4th Amendment is meant to keep you safe from police abuse, there are a couple of instances where it may not apply. Here are some of the instances when The 4th Amendment may not protect you:
- If you are in possession of illegal material in plain view. For instance, if during a traffic stop, the police see a weapon or illegal drug paraphernalia in your car, they may seize this and use it as evidence during your trial.
- During your arrest, the police may search the surrounding for weapons and other contraband
- If the police were in hot pursuit of a suspect who eventually enters your property, the police can enter your property to arrest the suspect in question
- If you are in a car and the police suspect that you have committed a crime, they may stop and search your car for evidence of the crime. The rationale being that you can easily move the car and evidence before the police obtain a warrant.
If you are indicted and charged with a crime, it is important that you understand your legal rights and obligations.