U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment
The law relating to search and seizure is both complicated and extensive. Prior to the American Revolution, the British authorities were permitted to enter the homes of colonists to search for and seize evidence of crimes with little or no justification. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was drafted to protect the personal privacy of citizens and provides for the right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion into their persons, homes, businesses, and property. This amendment has also impacted the requirements and procedures required for an arrest, a police stop on the street, and the searches of both homes and businesses.
Search and Seizure Protections
In general, search and seizure rules determine whether evidence is admissible at trial. Evidence collected in a manner that violates the Fourth Amendment is barred from use at trial as the colorfully named 'fruit of the poisonous tree' doctrine. Law enforcement isn't entirely handicapped by the Fourth Amendment, however, and the police can still search or seize where they have a valid search warrant, a valid arrest warrant, or 'probable cause' that a person has committed a crime.
The rules of evidence are notoriously complicated. The Fourth Amendment's text and supplemental information are available for your review, but the highly technical nature of evidentiary issues means that the experience of a legal professional can be very helpful to determine how the Fourth Amendment's protections might help in your case.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
- Search and Seizure
- History and Scope of the Amendment
- Searches and Seizures Pursuant to Warrant
- Valid Searches and Seizures Without Warrants
- Electronic Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment
- Enforcing the Fourth Amendment: The Exclusionary Rule
Next Steps: A Free Case Review
The Fourth Amendment is packed with rights and protections and imposes restrictions on how the government can collect evidence against you. That's where a skilled criminal defense attorney can make the difference. To learn more about your rights or to obtain a free review of the facts in your case, contact a defense attorney in your area today.