Your Fourth Amendment Rights



Know Your Fourth Amendment Rights


 Benjamin Franklin said” Those who trade liberty for security deserve neither and lose both”

He also said:



The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution sets forth that no person shall be subject to an “unreasonable search and seizure.” When you are pulled over, or otherwise stopped by a law enforcement officer, this is considered a “seizure” of you, the person. If the police did not have a valid reason for stopping you, then they will not be allowed to use any of the evidence they obtained against you. This prohibition against illegally obtained evidence is designed to protect your rights as an individual against the government. It has the effect of forcing the police to obey the Constitution, or else they will not be able to make a case against you. When the police have illegally stopped you, your lawyer will be able to suppress the prosecutor’s evidence against you.

The officer that stops you must have “probable cause” to do so. This means that the officer must be able to make a good-faith assertion that you have done, or are about to do, something that is against the law. This can be something minor, such as you did not use your turn signal. It could be something more serious, such as you are considered a suspect in a bank robbery. Whatever the reason, the police must be able to explain to a judge what facts led them to conclude that you probably did (or will) commit a crime.

Traffic violations are the most common reason that a person is stopped by the police. Your lawyer will evaluate the circumstances of your traffic stop. The evidence may show that you were detained illegally, and justify the exclusion of the prosecutor’s evidence.




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.

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Are there any exceptions to your fourth amendment rights?


 Law enforcement officers need a warrant for most search and seizure activities, but the Court has defined a series of exceptions for consent searchesmotor vehicle searchesevidence in plain viewexigent circumstancesborder searches, and other situations.

The Supreme Court has held that individuals in automobiles have a reduced expectation of privacy, because vehicles generally do not serve as residences or repositories of personal effects. Vehicles may not be randomly stopped and searched; there must be probable cause or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Items in plain view may be seized; areas that could potentially hide weapons may also be searched. With probable cause to believe evidence is present, police officers may search any area in the vehicle. However, they may not extend the search to the vehicle’s passengers without probable cause to search those passengers or consent from the passengers.

In Arizona v. Gant (2009), the Court ruled that a law enforcement officer needs a warrant before searching a motor vehicle after an arrest of an occupant of that vehicle, unless

1) at the time of the search the person being arrested is unsecured and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment of the vehicle or

2) police officers have reason to believe that evidence for the crime for which the person is being arrested will be found in the vehicle.

The content above applies to traffic stops.Checkpoints have their own set of guidelines to follow.

If you have a challenge see below

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