The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures of their person, property, and possessions. It is a fundamental right that all US Citizens are entitled to.
However, many people give up this right through a lack of awareness. They don’t know what they can do to lose it or protect it. In this article, we will discuss the Fourth Amendment and what you can do to keep it the protections that you deserve!
Lack of Awareness
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is one of the most important amendments in the Bill of Rights. It protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement.
If you are not aware of your rights under the Fourth Amendment, you may be more likely to allow law enforcement to search your person, property, or possessions without a warrant. You may also be more likely to agree to a search without protest.
Unfortunately, when that occurs, any ill-gotten gains that a law enforcement officer might be able to produce are fair game. You could be looking at massive fines or even prison time, and it could all stem from a search that occurred with no probable cause.
No Warrant Searches
If you allow law enforcement to search your person, property, or possessions without a warrant, they may find evidence of criminal activity. This evidence could then be used against you in court. That’s why you should always insist on a warrant before allowing a search to take place.
See, to obtain a warrant, LEOs will have to be able to articulate their probable cause. Prosecutors usually don’t want their name attached to an unlawful search and seizure, so they take the issuance of warrants very seriously. An Officer who cannot properly articulate his right to a search is likely to get shut down. If you don’t insist on the warrant and just agree to the search without protest, then you’re making things very easy for Police.
Not Making Your Voice Heard
When law enforcement asks to search your person, property, or possessions, you have the right to say no. However, if you agree to a search without protest, you may be giving up your Fourth Amendment rights. You should always remember that you do not have to consent to a search.
Even if law enforcement goes ahead and does the search, your actively protesting that search can go a long way in solidifying Fourth Amendment protections. It gets it on the record that you do not want to be searched. That puts the burden on the Officer to justify why he went ahead with the search sans warrant.
Committing a Crime
The Fourth Amendment only protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government when no probable cause exists. However, if you commit a crime, the police can search you and your belongings without a warrant.
This is because the courts have ruled that people who break the law do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, in some states with less gun-friendly laws, police that sees you carrying a gun can stop and frisk you without a warrant.
They may also search your home if they have reason to believe that you have committed a crime. In addition, if you are arrested, the police can search your pockets and belongings for evidence of the crime. So, while the Fourth Amendment is an important protection against government intrusion, it does not apply if you have committed a crime.
But the key is in having probable cause. The Officer must have witnessed you committing the crime, or be able to reasonably show that you’re likely involved in some way.
How to Protect Yourself
Obviously, the best way to protect yourself is through awareness. Know the law and its mechanisms for protecting you, as well as when those protections no longer exist. Also, keep this knowledge at your fingertips:
- Never allow law enforcement to search your person, property, or possessions without a warrant
- If you are asked to consent to a search, always protest and do not agree to it until you have consulted an attorney
- If you are arrested, do not talk to law enforcement until you have spoken with an attorney
If you ever find yourself in a situation where law enforcement is asking to search your person, property, or possessions, it’s important to have an experienced attorney in your corner.
Attorney John Teakell has years of experience fighting for the Fourth Amendment rights of his clients and knows exactly what to do to protect them. Contact him today for a free consultation and let him help you navigate these tricky waters.