Tags: Law Enforcement | fourth amendment | protects | illegal | searches

How the Fourth Amendment Protects You From Illegal Searches and Seizures

By    |   Thursday, 04 June 2015 11:44 AM

In the Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment protects the individual's right to privacy and against unreasonable search and seizures. Among the 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, it receives considerable attention in regard to the government overstepping its bounds.

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The Fourth Amendment says it is "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."

However, the U.S. Courts have ruled consistently that it "is not a guarantee against all searches and seizures, but only those that are deemed unreasonable under the law."

The definition of searches is broad as set out in the Constitution. "A search can mean everything from a frisking by a police officer to a blood test to a search of an individual’s home or car," the National Constitution Center said.

Searches typically require warrants, issued by courts, that lay out what will be searched and why there is enough suspicion to conduct the search. This is explicit in the text of the Fourth Amendment.

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Minnesota v. Carter (1998) held that “the extent to which an individual is protected by the Fourth Amendment depends, in part, on the location of the search and seizure,” the U.S. Courts explained online. There are different exceptions to warrantless searches.

One of the main exceptions to the Fourth Amendment is a pat-down. It is held that an officer may conduct pat-downs following a lawful arrest as well as during routine traffic stops, U.S. Courts said.

Plain View
If illegal or suspicious items are in plain view of the officer, warrantless search and seizures of those items is constitutional. This was determined in Maryland v. Macon (1985), the U.S. Courts reported.

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In the Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment protects the individual's right to privacy and against unreasonable search and seizures.
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Thursday, 04 June 2015 11:44 AM
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