All citizens of the United States have the right to feel secure in knowing that their home and personal belongings are not subject to unreasonable searches and seizures.
Protection for the people
Photo by: Chuck Coker
The Fourth Amendment states, “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. “ The Fourth Amendment is there to protect the people from searches that are unjust and unreasonable.
When is a search unreasonable?
Unless a warrant is provided, a search is considered unreasonable if it violates a person’s privacy. Things considered private can include a residence, vehicle, private property, or clothing. There are often times when obtaining search warrants are not needed in order to conduct a search. These loopholes regularly exercised by law enforcement can include:
• Verbal permission is given to do a search by the person who the property or possessions
• Illegal or dangerous items can be seen easily without having to search the property
• There is reason to believe that an immediate threat to another’s well-being is at stake
• Enough probable cause is noted to conduct a search
Common incidents of illegal searches
Whether it’s working on a hunch or trying to meeting quota, there are officers out there who are merely hoping to find a reason to make an arrest. Unfortunately, many citizens see police as someone of superior authority who outranks the common civilian and they tend to not speak up when their belongings are gone through without a valid reason. A few incidents where these unreasonable searches and seizures are more likely to take place are:
• Searching the trunks and vehicles during routine traffic stops
• Going outside the permitted areas of a search warrant
• Entering an unlocked home, garage or vehicle
• Pat downs of random law abiding pedestrians
Questionable Violation of Fourth Amendment rights
Occasionally citizens may believe that they have been a victim of unreasonable searches and seizures, when the judge may not agree with their assessment. A hit in run case involving a young woman named Chelse Marie Brierley of Layton Utah was almost dismissed when it appeared that her Fourth Amendment rights had been violated. Following the hit and run, police were able to track Brierley down to her residence and while at her home they entered uninvited through the front door that was left open by the Brierley’s housekeeper. Although they were not invited to enter the residence, during the time that they were in the house nothing was searched. However because these officers entered the home unlawfully, Brierley assumed she was a victim of unreasonable searches and seizures. It was determined last week that none of the evidence in her case was obtained while officers were in her home so the charges against her for the hit and run were not dismissed.
Charges and evidence acquired during unreasonable searches and seizures
Photo by: Copper Kettle
Not all cases fighting unreasonable searches and seizures turn out to be naught. If there is any indication that the charged person is in fact a victim of a Fourth Amendment violation, it is imperative to speak to counsel before getting any admittance of guilt on record. It is possible that the charges could be dropped entirely. If a judge rules that the charged person was a victim of unreasonable searches and seizures, then all evidence for the case that was derived because of that illegal search is invalid and will not be submitted in court. Not only is the evidence directly obtained during the search no longer submissible, but any information or items obtained because of the knowledge obtained during the illegal search and seizure is also unusable to the prosecution. In other words, if the source of the info is tainted, then so is everything that came because of it. If you are concerned that your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately before moving forward with your case.