Every United States citizen has the right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment.
Sometimes, law enforcement has the right to invade this privacy and search your property. But, this is not always the case. The police cannot just search anything at any time. Here, I will discuss some of the situations in which law enforcement conduct unlawful searches. By knowing what is a legal and an illegal search, you can make sure that your rights are protected.
Protections Under The Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment, among other things, protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure. Under the Fourth Amendment, protection applies to situations in which a law enforcement agent makes a stop or an arrest. It applies to law enforcement searches of places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. This refers to places like a person’s home, car, clothing, personal bags, etc.
There are regulations that the police need to follow if they are going to lawfully search your personal property. If they do not follow the proper procedures, any evidence collected in an unlawful search can be inadmissible in court. Of course, the amount of protection that you have and the proper procedures will vary based on your personal situation.
There are many situations in which the Fourth Amendment applies and your right to privacy should be upheld. A few common ones include:
- If stopped by a police officer on the street.
- If pulled over while driving and the police officer wants to search your car or trunk.
- During an arrest.
- When a police officer comes into your apartment or home.
- When a police officer comes into your business.
- If a law enforcement agent places your personal property or vehicle under police control.
In most cases, the police cannot search your property in these circumstances unless they have:
- A valid arrest warrant.
- A valid search warrant.
- Probable cause that a crime occured.
Protecting Your Rights
If you think that you are the victim of an unlawful search, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can review the circumstances of your situation and help you determine if the police followed procedure or not. If they did not follow procedure, any evidence gathered in the unlawful search can’t incriminate you. In some situations, charges against you will be dropped altogether if an unlawful search took place.
Unlawful searches do happen, since it can be difficult to follow procedure. Don’t let yourself get taken advantage of – contact a lawyer and have your situation reviewed today!